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Apr 8, 2009 05:23 PM

100 highest grossing restaurants

A list of the 100 highest grossing restaurants in the US. Some very impressive numbers but I wonder what the ‘net’ profit happens to be.

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  1. It is perhaps a sad condition that 25 of the top grossing restos in the US are in Las Vegas. I fault myself for having contributed to the gross of 11 of them. But some of the best sushi I have ever eaten... was in the desert. And was not on the list!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      I'm amazed that BOTH Montgomery Inn places are on there in Cincy. I'm from there - and while they are popular, they're not that good!

      1. re: AMFM

        I was thinking the same thing. High grossing does not equal great food. But they sure know how to pack 'em in and out in a hurry.

        1. re: AMFM

          "Good," unfortunately, has NOTHING to do with it!

          #2, TOTG -- was #1 for a very long time, and only for a brief period in its history -- when Patrick Clark was the Chef -- was the food anything to write home about.

          When you're visiting New York, you should SEE the restaurant, but I recommend going for cocktails, and dining elsewhere.

      2. Tavern on the Green #2??? Holy crap (pun intended)!

        1. Wow there's a couple of real shockers there for me. I never would have guessed Scomas would have hit so high on the list but the food was great.
          Zehnders at 48. All I can say is that's a lot of freakin chickin. I never understood the attraction there. I wonder if those numbers reflect the gift shop, pastry shop, wine shop etc that are all in the same building. Add the Bavarian Inn right across the street to the list and I am nothing short of shell shocked.
          Both of those chicken places grossing more than Aureole, Spago and Daniel Boulud's!
          Who knew?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Fritter

            Definitely a volume operation in Frankenmuth. We've been going up the last few Septembers for the car show (a good time if you like that sort of thing) and have eaten at the chicken places a time or two since the Frankenmuth Brewery went under (I miss that place). While the chicken's not bad if it's hot and fresh, I wouldn't drive there just to eat it. And they are very good at turning those tables.

            The only other place on the list I've eaten at is Mon Ami Gabi in Vegas, which I don't remember being ridiculous expensive either, and it was pretty good. Of course, the fact that it was being expensed made it that much better!

            1. re: coney with everything

              If you are there at that time of year park in the back and take a peek at the kitchen entrance. Sometimes they have giant blue hubbard squash piled up like a mountain waiting to get cooked and stored for the following year.

          2. I don't find that list to be surprising at all. The vast majority of those places are in busy tourist areas, which means they do a high volume, the average tab is higher (people splurge more when on vacation or travelling on an expense account) and they can charge higher prices than comparable restaurants in other areas. It's not a mystery. High volume plus high revenue per diner equals high gross. That's why you don't see places like The French Laundry (high tab per diner but low volume) and why you see so many places in Vegas, where the higher end restaurants tend to be bigger than their counterparts (Bouchon in Las Vegas seats 200, Bouchon in Yountville seats 72).

            It will be more interesting to see what the downturn in the tourist industry will do to this list.

            Edited to add: I do find one thing to be somewhat surprising: that Slanted Door is the highest grossing restaurant in San Francisco and grosses more than Scoma's.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Remember bac in the day when the original Spenger's (Berkeley) was on that list? Mainly due to the crowds from Golden Gate Fields and Cal alums taking advantage of the bar and big parking lot.

              1. re: Stephanie Wong

                Yup. Of course there was a lot less competition in those days, too!

                1. re: Stephanie Wong

                  Spenger's used to be the highest-grossing restaurant west of the Mississippi.

                  Slanted Door's no big surprise. How many places have a great bay view, a national reputation for great food, and are a couple of blocks from the end of a cable car line? One.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    The cable car line is not a factor -- that line doesn't draw a crowd the way the Powell St. lines do. National reputation for food? How many of those other places have that? Clearly that's not a factor. It's "ethnic" and it's only half the size of Scoma's, which has an even better view.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Not to be argumentative, but I would say that the cable car line is a factor - not a huge one, but a factor. I would also say that Slanted Door does have a national reputation.I've lived in SF and now Chicago and many people have heard of Slanted Door who have only visited SF. It's highly rated on Zagat, for example, which is the go to guide for visitors across the nation. I haven't been to Slanted Door since it moved from it's location in the Mission but I thought it was fantastic. Slanted Door's "ethnicity" is certainly not a factor one way or another - Tao is very similiar.

                      1. re: october271986

                        I've walked by that cable car stop (the end of the line) literally hundreds of times, and I've never seen more than a couple of people get on or off there -- usually there's no one on the car when it arrives/leaves.

                        I didn't mean to suggest that Slanted Door doesn't have a national reputation for food, only that, given the other places on the list, the reputation of the food isn't a significant factor in the success of restaurants on that list. It may be a slight factor for Slanted Door, in that it brings in locals as well as tourists, and you're right that it may be the factor that differentiates it from Scoma's, which rightly or wrongly very few local foodies would be caught dead in.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I think the national--actually, international--reputation is a huge factor for Slanted Door. That's the only thing that differentiates it from other restaurants nearby with the same or better views.

                          I used to work a block away from that cable-car stop and at certain times the cars were full of tourists. The ferries and vintage streetcars also draw tourists, as does the Ferry Plaza shopping center and the dozen or so hotels in the immediate area. Plus it's a prime spot for business lunches.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            >>> that differentiates it from Scoma's, which rightly or wrongly very few local foodies would be caught dead in

                            Hey ... hey ...

                            It must be all my Chowhound recs for Scomas that is making sales soar.

                            1. re: rworange

                              heheheh mine, too! I love Scoma's for crab, Chardonnay and the fantastic view. It was my very first San Francisco dining experience 39 years ago, and I LOVE to recreate that every time I visit the City by the Bay. ;)

                              I also love The Slanted Door.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    And ultimately, this does not attest to quality or being "the best" in a specific just means they have a higher mark-up and bigger profit. What percentage of this list are spots that are recommended here on Chow?

                    It's kind of like those Real Estate headlines you see in the paper that list the change +/- in the "median" or "average" home price. One or two sales can sway the stats so easily that they begin to mean nothing at all.

                    The investors might be happy but the diner's have no input in these numbers whatsoever. Your example of Slanted Door and Scoma's put the exclamation point on the issue.

                    1. re: MSK

                      "it just means they have a higher mark-up and bigger profit"

                      This says nothing about profit or quality. It's primarily an indicator of volume. I'm not familiar with every one of the restaurants so it is possible that some achive a higher gross with high prices or as you say, mark-ups.
                      Think McDonalds. Small price, Huge Volume. Large gross.

                      1. re: MSK

                        > What percentage of this list are spots that are recommended here on Chow?

                        Of the four San Francisco restaurants on the list, two of them are legitimately good places which are recommended a lot (Slanted Door and Boulevard). The other two (Cliff House and Scomas) are places I think a lot of us would love to love, what with their perfect settings -- one on the remnants of a once bustling harbor with fishing boats and an old tall-masted sailing ship nearby, the other a hundred feet above the crashing surf looking out towards the setting sun. And occasionally intrepid hounds make a foray into one or the other and once in a while find something that didn't fall off the back of a Sysco truck. Though that's rare and takes skill.

                        Still, 50% isn't bad ...

                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                          The Cliff House hired George Morrone and is currently making one of its periodic efforts to be better than a tourist trap. Some positive reports on the SF board.

                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                            Actually I've recommended ... and ate at ... all three restuarants.

                            Scoma's has their own fishing fleet, docked at the restaurant and a fish processing plant. Definately not Sysco. They also know how to cook that fish. I will give you the sides are blah, but outside of Chinese restaurants with fish tanks, it is probably some of the freshest fish in the City. The prices are stupid though ... except for the $22 3 course lunch special ... and there is free valet parking at the door.

                            As Robert mentioned, George Morrone is at the Cliff House. It was only when he showed up in Jan 2009 that I recommended it. There still might be some off stuff there though. The other two restaurants in the Cliff House though ... no ... I've don't major rants warning peole away from them ... though good popovers at the cafe ... that is all that is good.

                      2. Most of the restaurants listed look to be large with sq ft in the 5 and 6 digit range. #74, Harris Ranch, is a big surprise -- what kind of resto is 304,500 sq ft in size????? Must be the whole damned ranch!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Sherri

                          Can I get a MR Porterhouse in holding pen five?

                          1. re: Sherri

                            It's the only halfway decent place to eat between Sacramento and Los it is popular.

                            1. re: melly

                              Unless you take Hwy 99 through the central valley towns.

                              1. re: melly

                                Popular, yes. I've eaten there for the exact reason you state. However, popularity does not explain 304,500 sq ft. (This is almost 7 acres OR more than five of Candy Spelling's 60,000 sq ft houses currently for sale in Ca. That's a lot of geography)

                                1. re: Sherri

                                  That total probably includes the 185-room hotel, ballroom, and conference center.