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Report claims 2015 restaurant sales in Arizona will lead country

PHOENIX — It looks like more people are going out to eat in Arizona.

A new report says restaurants in the state will do better business in 2015 than anywhere else in the country.

The National Restaurant Association says sales at Arizona restaurants are expected to be nearly $11.5 billion this year. That’s a jump of nearly five percent over last year.

Arizona Restaurant Association President Steve Chucri says the wide variety of restaurants in Arizona is helping.

“When you give diners a choice in options, they’re going to embrace it, and I think that’s what we’re seeing in Arizona,” Chucri said.

The report said that Arizona restaurants will add 65,000 more jobs to the state in the next 10 years. About 273,000 Arizonans are currently employed by restaurants.

Chucri said the good statistics do not mean that restaurants in Arizona have recovered from the recession.

“You ask any restaurant owner, and they’ll say we’re ‘recovering’ but we’re not ‘recovered,” Chucri said. “You have to remember that price points fell by such a large margin during the recession that it’s hard to climb those menu prices back up.”

The Arizona Restaurant Association admits that the Super Bowl, Waste Management Phoenix Open and other recent events drawing crowds to the state are a factor in the increased sales. The ARA said in a press release, “To no surprise, restaurants are expecting a positive impact on their sales due to the major events taking place in Arizona over these months, but also throughout the year.”

Nationally, restaurants sales are expected to exceed $709 billion in 2015. That’s up 3.8 percent from the $683 billion that restaurants reeled in last year.