Hellllo, new decade!
Well, we did it. We got through one of the darkest and most horrible years in human history—bring on the arbitrary new beginnings, folks, that's what we always say. Anyway, we've been hard at work researching interesting food-related stats from 2019, and we think you might hoot at a few of these.

-There are currently over 1 million independent restaurants in operation in the United States, and at those restaurants, there are roughly 15.3 million employees meaning that the restaurant workforce makes up about 10% of all US jobs.

-Of those restaurants, 9 in 10 have fewer than 50 employees and 9 in 10 have managers who started in low level positions while 8 in 10 have owners who started in low level positions. You know who's a good example of that locally? Quinn Stephenson, owner of Santacafé and Coyote Café—dude started as a busser a million years ago. Now THAT'S upward mobility.

-Something like 54% of restaurant workers say they're proud to work in foodservice (as they should be), while an itty-bitty 4% isn't so proud. We knew people like that in restaurants … the people who were like, "This is just until my acting career takes off!" Yeah, right.

-Over 200 million Americans enjoyed a sit-down meal at a restaurant in 2019. That sounds obvious, but it's also huge. We also know there's no better meal than the one someone just gave you that you also didn't have to make. "But, The Fork!" you may be whining. "I love cooking and find deep satisfaction in that!" Fair enough, fair enough, but according to our research, roughly 50% of Americans absolutely hate cooking. We go both ways, y'know? Apparently the number of Americans who love to cook hovers at around 15%.

-As of 2017, the average American diner spends about $3,000 eating out per year, and of those average Americans, 90% research a restaurant before they try it. We find user review sites like yelp.com to be lawless wastelands of petty personal drama played out from behind a keyboard—and some of our favorite places are unassuming, not reviewed or otherwise feel like a cool secret that only we know.

-With 77% of Americans currently using social media like Facebook and Twitter on the reg, 88% of American restaurants use targeted marketing, either in-house or through a company, to reach those people. This is why you suddenly think, "That Impossible Whopper sounds good as hell right now," sometimes.

-Another 77% of Americans supposedly trust peer reviews over critic reviews. But what would we know, right? We've only dedicated our lives to this stuff.

-The fast-food industry, which has something like 200,000 brick and mortar franchises around the country, accounts for roughly $110 billion in revenue alone. That's sooooo much money, but Jeff Bezos still has more. Think on that. THINK ON THAT RIGHT NOW! Anyway, McDonald's continues to be the most popular fast-food joint.

-According to our exhaustive research, the average household spends about $110 a week on groceries. That's too much, nothing makes sense or feels good anymore, time is a flat, black circle … oh, God, the unknowable cosmic horror is seeping in all around us!

-According to the most recent data from Plunkett Research, grocery stores in the country made over $600 billion in revenue in 2018, and we can only assume that's gone up since then and will continue to go up.

-When it comes to tech in food, 80% of American restaurants embrace the encroaching Skynet swarm, 81% use an electronic point-of-sale system, online grocery sales are expected to top $100 billion in 2020 and 73% of people who eat food say that tech is an important part of the equation for them. Probably out there eating circuit boards and precious metals for fuel, y'know? You don't know? Anyway, eat local and be cool.

This has nothing to do with anything we're talking about, but if you only do one thing today, make it watching this Wendy's training video … it's in rap form!

-OK, we know it's been dicey and there has been a lot of information flying around, but Sazon is totally, actually, finally, really for-sure open again. In a press release we got, chef/owner Fernando Olea says "I am so happy and thankful to finally be able to entertain Sazon's clients. It has been a long journey. What we are most proud of is that we were able to pay our entire staff for the full seven months that we were closed." That seriously is so amazing.

-This isn't NEWS per se, but Fork reader Lilia wisely pointed out that Sprouts grocery store will totally deliver food to your door. The Fork's partner did this one time and was so thrilled, it's all they could talk about for, like, the next year. Anyway, here's a link to do that.

-Huge congrats to Local Flavor columnist Sharon Niederman, whose new book, Explorer's Guide to New Mexico, just won Best of Show at the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

-We stopped by Cafecito, the new restaurant in the old Opuntia space at 922 Shoofly Street and have some thoughts. One, our companion tried a grilled cheese sandwich, which they described as "perfectly fine," and we found the coffee's $3.80 price tag to be a little steep (with the $1 tip that's kind of high). Granted, they're new and the refills are free, but we're not impressed just yet. Hopefully soon things settle and get real good.

Drinks. I'm ready.

More Tidbits
-The Fork doesn't make resolutions we feel are bound to make us hate ourselves more than we already do later, but we still like being armed with knowledge. This USA Today article on snacks ruining your diet might specify the snacks are more summertime guys, but still—it could help you, maybe?

-If you're looking for other weight loss/eating advice, this-here rundown of diets might help (if you can stick with it), and we still want everyone to remember that whatever your size or health status, you're worthy of respect and love.

-Hot off the heels of Vegan November comes Veganuary, a celebrity-spurred campaign urging the public to go vegan this month (and, probably, forever). Joaquin Phoenix is all up in there, as is Clueless star Alicia Silverstone.

-Speaking of vegans, tastecooking.com has an interesting read about how vegan jerky has become a big ol' deal all over the place. Turns out pretty much any plant you can think of has what they call "jerky potential."

-Eater.com is out there trolling EVERYBODY with these amazing hot takes for 2020 food. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Then we laughed.

-Over at vox.com, contributor Kara Elder has put together a nifty little list for food and drinks that fight the wintertime sadsies. For people like The Fork who get alllll bummed out when the light changes. Everything on the list is very doable and we hope it helps at least one or two of you.

In the print edition of SFR, food predictor Zibby Wilder breaks down the top 3 things you’ll probably see in food this year.
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence 

Number of Letters Received
*And many thoughts on Chipotle … still.

Most Helpful Tip of the Week 
“Could you just stop?”

Actually Helpful Tip
The Sprouts delivery reminder—that’s where they have the good macadamia milk!
*Thanks, Lilia!
All the auld lang syne you can handle,
The Fork