The Colorado Restaurant Industry in 2022

231,800 Employees

Colorado restaurants employ 7% of the state’s labor force; it employed 10% pre-pandemic.

69% Independent

The majority of Colorado restaurants are independently owned and operated.

$323 Million

Colorado restaurants generate millions in state sales tax each year, plus any taxes collected locally in more than 600 jurisdictions.

12,400+ Locations

Colorado ranks 18 nationally in the number of restaurants per capita.

$14+ Billion

Colorado restaurants are a revenue engine for the state’s economy – and are just beginning to recover from the pandemic.

An Industry of Opportunity…

Minorities & Women

Restaurants employ more minority managers and have more women in management and ownership positions than any other industry.

80% Entry to Owner

Eight in ten restaurant owners say their first restaurant job was an entry-level position.

30% First-Time Workers

One in three adults found their first job in the restaurant industry.

…But Not Without Its Challenges

Industry Margins Are Tight

About 3¢ is all that remains from each dollar spent at a restaurant after operators pay for labor, overhead, and food.

Operational Costs Are Skyrocketing

Food prices increased more than 9% in 2021, the highest increase in more than four decades.

The Labor Crisis Continues

8 out of 10 local restaurants are struggling to hire enough staff, even as industry wages in Colorado have risen an average of 20%.

CRA Industry Impact Data

The CRA conducts regular impact surveys to gather data on the issues facing Colorado restaurants. We receive feedback from hundreds of operators across the state, painting a clear picture of the state of the restaurant industry at a moment in time.

2022 Surveys

CRA January 2022 Economic Survey
NRA January 2022 Colorado Omicron Impact Survey

2021 Surveys

CRA July 2021 Impact Survey
CRA April/May 2021 Impact Survey
CRA March 2021 Impact Survey
CRA January 2021 Impact Survey

2020 Surveys

CRA November 2020 Impact Survey
CRA October 2020 Impact Survey
CRA July 2020 Impact Survey
CRA June 2020 Impact Survey
CRA May 2020 Impact Survey
CRA May 2020 Alcohol for Takeout and Delivery Survey
CRA April 2020 Impact Survey

Colorado Restaurant Data Dashboard

A look into the economic and demographic data behind Colorado’s restaurant industry, created in partnership with CU Boulder Leeds School of Business

National Restaurant Association Data

Forecasting, trends, and data from our partners in Washington, D.C.

Learn more