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Industry study shows restaurant visits up 19% this year in Puerto Rico

The Estudio ASORE Tendencias (EAT), commissioned by the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association (ASORE, in Spanish), confirmed that visits to restaurants increased on the island by 19% this year, with an average of seven visits per month, representing the largest share of restaurant spending.

The study by The Research Office highlights current trends in the restaurant industry on the island under the theme “2023 Great Challenges, Excellent Results.” EAT also provides a detailed overview of consumer behavior, showing “the unstoppable growth and strength of this sector in the local economy.”

“The results of the EAT study clearly indicate that restaurants in Puerto Rico have not only achieved an effective recovery from the limitations and restrictions that characterized the pandemic, but have also been able to capitalize on a market of consumers eager to expand their social experiences,” the trade group stated.

The research’s findings also show that casual dining restaurants saw a 34% growth in visits, with an average spend of $55 per visit. Family restaurants were visited by 35% of adults in 2023, with an average spend of $62. Fine dining restaurants saw an increase in customer traffic, with an average spend of $101 per visit, accounting for 10% of total restaurant spending.

“It’s impressive to see how the restaurant industry has evolved in Puerto Rico. Despite the challenges, the figures indicate that consumers are not only returning to restaurants, but they are doing so with unprecedented enthusiasm and frequency,” said José Alfonso, from The Research Office, during the presentation of this year’s edition of the annual study.

The EAT 2023 study was based on in-person interviews with 1,000 adults throughout the island, to “guarantee an accurate reflection of current trends in the industry,” ASORE officials said.

“The EAT 2023 report highlights the importance, value and reach of the restaurant industry in Puerto Rico, evidencing not only its rapid post-pandemic recovery, but its ability to capitalize on a consumer who wants to socialize and experience more. Therefore, EAT has established itself as the reporting standard for this industry,” the trade group stated.

Among the study’s key findings are that:

  • Consumers are showing more confidence in their finances, with 25% feeling confident enough not to limit their spending.
  • In Puerto Rico, consumers visit restaurants more frequently than they do stateside, and showed a higher inclination toward takeout or delivery services.
  • Average monthly spending at restaurants increased 21% from 2022, reaching $595 per month. That increase may be partly attributed to inflation and increasing prices across the board.
  • 47% of consumers who tip prefer to add it themselves, with an average of 15%.

“The findings of the EAT 2023 study are a clear sign of the resilience of our industry and the crucial role that restaurants play in the economy and in the daily lives of Puerto Ricans. Restaurants are not only places to eat, they are spaces for socialization, experiences and community,” said ASORE President Mateo Cidre.

The study also spotlighted technology’s role in modernizing Puerto Rico’s restaurant industry, improving the customer experience by facilitating access to menus, operating hours, directions, daily specials and payment processes. 

The study showed that three out of four users, or some 73%, believe technology contributes significantly to improving their experience in restaurants.

“These data highlight the fundamental role that technology plays in the modernization and efficiency of the restaurant industry in Puerto Rico,” the group stated.

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