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States that employ the most people in the food service industry

  • States that employ the most people in the food service industry
    1/ Pixel-Shot // Shutterstock

    States that employ the most people in the food service industry

    Working in a restaurant is a rite of passage for many Americans. Fast food joints, chain restaurants, and local eateries offer entry-level jobs perfect for high school graduates or other first-time workers. Plus, the customer service experience gained working as a waiter or host can prove useful in almost any other job.

    Sure, it seems like nearly everyone you know has a story about their summer working at a local diner or drive-thru. But how common is that experience, really? Stacker compiled state-by-state statistics from the National Restaurant Association to find out. All 50 states and the District of Columbia were ranked by the number of food service jobs per 100,000 people. For context, the national average was 4,601 per 100,000 people in 2018.

    Read on to find out which states offer the most restaurant and food service jobs, make the most in estimated restaurant sales, and how many offerings you can find at each locale.  

    ALSO: The 50 most meaningful jobs in America

  • #51. New Jersey
    2/ Fanmartin // Wikicommons

    #51. New Jersey

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 3,928 (14.6% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 349,900
    Food service places in 2016: 18,337
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $16.3 billion

    In a state with a long-time love for sub sandwiches, it's no wonder that nationally known companies like Blimpie and Jersey Mike's were founded in New Jersey. Despite the Garden State's estimated $16.3 billion in restaurant sales in 2017, it employed the fewest number of people in the restaurant industry—14.6% lower than the national average.

  • #50. Idaho
    3/ Chlamens // Wikicommons

    #50. Idaho

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 3,951 (14.1% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 69,300
    Food service places in 2016: 3,238
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $2.3 billion

    Idaho might be known for its potatoes, but that's not all the state's restaurants cook up for hungry patrons. However, with a relatively small population, this state employs far fewer food industry workers than the national average.

  • #49. Mississippi
    4/ Watkinswd // Good Free Photos

    #49. Mississippi

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 3,995 (13.2% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 119,300
    Food service places in 2016: 4,719
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $4.5 billion

    When visiting Mississippi, some of the state's most popular bites—Mississippi Mud Pie, barbecue, biscuits, fried chicken, and crawfish—are must-have meals. Despite this plethora of tasty options, the state only offered 3,995 jobs in the food service industry per 100,000 people in 2018.

  • #48. Utah
    5/ jkinsocial // Wikicommons

    #48. Utah

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,018 (12.7% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 127,000
    Food service places in 2016: 4,862
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $4.6 billion

    Utah-based chains like Hogi Yogi, Crown Burgers, and Arctic Circle Restaurants employ lots of locals, but the Beehive State doesn't offer many food service jobs overall. Utah had 12.7% fewer jobs in the food service industry than the national average in 2018.

  • #47. Alabama
    6/ Anivron // Wikicommons

    #47. Alabama

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,022 (12.6% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 196,600
    Food service places in 2016: 8,187
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $8.1 billion

    Known for its savory barbecue, fried chicken, and other Southern delicacies, Alabama offered almost 200,000 jobs in the food service industry in 2018. Local companies like Dreamland Bar-B-Que and Foosackly's make up some of those jobs.  

  • #46. Arkansas
    7/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #46. Arkansas

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,055 (11.9% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 122,200
    Food service places in 2016: 5,054
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $4.4 billion

    Arkansas doesn't have the booming food industry as other states with just over 5,500 food service locations statewide in 2016, and 122,200 jobs in 2018. Nevertheless, a few local companies like Shake's Frozen Custard have found success operating in the state.  

  • #45. Maryland
    8/ Steelplug // Wikicommons

    #45. Maryland

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,074 (11.4% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 246,200
    Food service places in 2016: 11,250
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $12.1 billion

    While Maryland-based restaurants like Jerry's Subs & Pizza, Ledo Pizza, and Stuckey's employ a fair amount of locals, the number of food service industry jobs in the Free State is still well below the national average.

  • #44. West Virginia
    9/ Tim Kiser // Wikicommons

    #44. West Virginia

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,087 (11.2% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 73,800
    Food service places in 2016: 3,228
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $2.8 billion

    West Virginia has its fair share of local chains, like the colorfully named Tudor's Biscuit World and Gino's Pizza and Spaghetti. But the state lacks a strong number of food service industry jobs. West Virginia has produced tons of notable contributors to American culture, being the birthplace of the likes of Brad Paisley and Pearl S. Buck, but came in the bottom 10 with just 73,800 food service jobs in 2018.

  • #43. Alaska
    10/ CHorvath // Pixabay

    #43. Alaska

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,231 (8% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 31,200
    Food service places in 2016: 1,406
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $1.6 billion

    Depending on where you live in Alaska, the nearest city or town might be plenty of miles away, so it makes sense that there isn't exactly a bustling restaurant scene. The Last Frontier offered 8% fewer jobs in the food service industry than the national average.

  • #42. Arizona
    11/ Shawn // Wikicommons

    #42. Arizona

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,311 (6.3% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 309,200
    Food service places in 2016: 9,310
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $12 billion

    Beloved national chains like Cold Stone Creamery and P.F. Chang's are based in Arizona, but the state still doesn't have a huge food service industry. In 2018, Arizona offered just 4,311 jobs per 100,000 people.

  • #41. Washington
    12/ Joe Mabel // Wikicommons

    #41. Washington

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,331 (5.9% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 326,400
    Food service places in 2016: 15,282
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $13.5 billion

    Starbucks, one of the largest food service employers in the country, was founded in Seattle. The state nevertheless doesn't employ a ton of people in the restaurant industry, falling 5.9% below the national average.

  • #40. New York
    13/ Kellie Jane // Pexels

    #40. New York

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,337 (5.7% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 847,600
    Food service places in 2016: 44,910
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $43.3 billion

    In addition to all the varied bars and restaurants in New York City, the Empire State is also the birthplace of national chains like Benihana, Sbarro, and T.G.I. Friday's. Despite the large restaurant presence in the state, it still surprisingly falls near the bottom of the largest food service employers in the country.  

  • #39. Connecticut
    14/ Daniel Case // Wikicommons

    #39. Connecticut

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,394 (4.5% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 157,000
    Food service places in 2016: 7,941
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $7.5 billion

    Though the estimated restaurant sales in Connecticut totalled more than $7.5 billion in 2017, the state still employed fewer people in the food service industry per 100,000 people than the national average. That comes as a bit of a shock, considering Connecticut was where the first Subway sandwich shop was founded in 1965.

  • #38. Michigan
    15/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #38. Michigan

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,408 (4.2% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 440,600
    Food service places in 2016: 16,198
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $15.9 billion

    Home-grown Michigan companies like Big Boy Restaurants, Domino's, Biggby Coffee, and Little Caesars have made an outsized impact on the national restaurant scene. In Michigan itself, however, the food service industry employs fewer people per 100,000 than the national average.

  • #37. South Carolina
    16/ Skywalker 195 // Wikicommons

    #37. South Carolina

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,420 (3.9% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 224,700
    Food service places in 2016: 8,977
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $9.4 billion

    South Carolina had fewer than 8,977 restaurants in 2016, falling short of the national standard. The Palmetto State does have an abundance of tasty offerings, particularly in its stews, gumbos, and boiled peanuts.

  • #36. Virginia
    17/ Ron Cogswell // Wikicommons

    #36. Virginia

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,460 (3.1% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 379,900
    Food service places in 2016: 15,129
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $16.8 billion

    Nationally known burger joint Five Guys is headquartered in Virginia, and even though that chain gives out free peanuts by the barrel-full, the state itself doesn't offer a ton of jobs in the industry. With just 4,460 jobs per 100,000 people, Virginia falls about 3% below the national average.

  • #35. California
    18/ Patrick Pelster // Wikicommons

    #35. California

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,472 (2.8% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 1,769,100
    Food service places in 2016: 72,387
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $82.2 billion

    McDonald's, In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, Denny's, Peet's Coffee, California Pizza Kitchen, the Cheesecake Factory—the list of restaurants founded in California goes on and on. But surprisingly, one of the most densely populated states and a bastion of food creation comes in below the national average on food service industry jobs.

  • #34. Kentucky
    19/ Brian Stansberry // Wikicommons

    #34. Kentucky

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,525 (1.6% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 202,200
    Food service places in 2016: 7,679
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $7.9 billion

    Dippin' Dots was founded here and Papa John's is based in Louisville—and you can't forget about Colonel Sanders' concoction of tasty fried chicken—but Kentucky hasn't recently made great strides towards more food industry jobs, falling 1.6% below the national average.

  • #33. Illinois
    20/ PxHere

    #33. Illinois

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,529 (1.6% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 577,000
    Food service places in 2016: 26,086
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $25.2 billion

    Like Kentucky, Illinois also lands at almost 2% below the national average on food service jobs per 100,000 people. However, this state had a much higher number of restaurant sales in 2017 with $25.2 billion. In 1940, the first Dairy Queen store opened in Joliet.

  • #32. Georgia
    21/ Tableatny // Flickr

    #32. Georgia

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,530 (1.5% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 476,500
    Food service places in 2016: 18,534
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $19.6 billion

    Well-known southern chains like Zaxby's, Waffle House, Huddle House and Chick-fil-A all started out in Georgia. But the state still falls slightly below the national average in terms of restaurant jobs.  

  • #31. Pennsylvania
    22/ Adam Jones // Wikicommons

    #31. Pennsylvania

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,551 (1.1% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 582,800
    Food service places in 2016: 25,846
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $21.5 billion

    The restaurant industry is an important force in Pennsylvania, the state known for popularizing hard and soft pretzels, Philly cheesesteaks, banana splits, potato chips, and apple butter. Though Pennsylvania did come in slightly below the national average on food service jobs, it also tallied an estimated $21.5 billion in restaurant sales in 2017.

  • #30. New Mexico
    23/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #30. New Mexico

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,572 (0.6% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 95,800
    Food service places in 2016: 3,344
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $3.4 billion

    New Mexico is right on par with the national average when it comes to food industry jobs, but one of their most popular chains has a unique story. When Blake Chanslor returned from World War II, he opened Blake's Lotaburger, whose products even made a cameo on “Breaking Bad.“

  • #29. Oklahoma
    24/ Urbanative // Wikicommons

    #29. Oklahoma

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,578 (0.5% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 180,500
    Food service places in 2016: 6,692
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $6.6 billion

    The home of beloved restaurant chains like Sonic Drive-In and Braum's, Oklahoma offers plenty of food industry jobs, although you'd be hard-pressed to find the Sooner State's official meal on menus at those establishments—a mix of fried okra, cornbread, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, black-eyed peas, and other deliciousness.

  • #28. Texas
    25/ Adriano Aurelio Araujo // Flickr

    #28. Texas

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,584 (0.4% lower than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 1,315,800
    Food service places in 2016: 45,418
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $54.1 billion

    Known for Tex-Mex, barbecue, and soul food, Texas offers plenty of ways to grub at local restaurants like Torchy's Tacos, Cotton Patch Cafe, and Golden Bird. The Lone Star State made a whopping $54.1 billion in restaurant sales in 2017.

  • #27. Tennessee
    26/ Sami99tr // Wikicommons

    #27. Tennessee

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,625 (0.5% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 313,100
    Food service places in 2016: 10,946
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $12.2 billion

    Looking at a list of the most popular Tennessee restaurants like Corky's BBQ, Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, and Jack Pirtle's Chicken, it's easy to get a sense of what is popular here. Hint: Those on a diet may want to veer elsewhere.

  • #26. North Carolina
    27/ Bz3tk // Wikicommons

    #26. North Carolina

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,645 (1% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 482,300
    Food service places in 2016: 18,318
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $18.6 billion

    Home to cult favorites like Cook Out, Hardee's, and Bojangles' Famous Chicken and Biscuits, North Carolina has a sound restaurant industry. With Southern delights a staple here, North Carolina offers a higher number of food service jobs than the national average.

  • #25. Louisiana
    28/ Jacinta Quesada // Wikicommons

    #25. Louisiana

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,648 (1% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 216,600
    Food service places in 2016: 8,762
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $8.9 billion

    The Bayou is known for having one of the most diverse offerings of food in the country. Any visitor to New Orleans will be smitten by a smorgasbord of food, from beignets to gator. Louisiana is also the home of Popeyes, so it's no wonder it comes above the national average in jobs per 100,000 people.

  • #24. Kansas
    29/ Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

    #24. Kansas

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,668 (1.5% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 135,900
    Food service places in 2016: 5,199
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $4.8 billion

    The love that Kansas people have for their local barbecue spots is nothing short of passion. It's only natural, then, that the state also has a prosperous restaurant industry. Those with a taste for small burgers will be intrigued to know that the first White Castle opened in Wichita in the 1920s.

  • #23. Maine
    30/ Maxpixel

    #23. Maine

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,685 (1.8% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 62,700
    Food service places in 2016: 3,188
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $2.3 billion

    Portland, Maine, has recently made a name for itself as a hub for up-and-coming bars and restaurants, which gives you some insight into how successful the food service industry is statewide. But few things beat grabbing a scoop from Gifford's, which has been serving ice cream since the 19th century.

  • #22. Oregon
    31/ Christopher // Wikicommons

    #22. Oregon

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,710 (2.4% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 197,400
    Food service places in 2016: 9,923
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $7.8 billion

    Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Papa Murphy's, the Old Spaghetti Factory, and a few other nationally known brands got their start in Oregon, a state that has proven itself friendly to the restaurant industry. Oregon food service jobs in 2018 clocked in at 2.4% higher than the national average.   

  • #21. Indiana
    32/ Derek Jensen // Good Free Photos

    #21. Indiana

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,779 (3.9% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 319,800
    Food service places in 2016: 11,787
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $11.6 billion

    Steak ‘n Shake, a rapidly growing restaurant chain, is headquartered in Indiana, a state that's known to mix its culinary offerings with a mix of farm-bred, all-natural taste, and hefty servings of Americana. Last year, Hoosier land offered 319,800 restaurant and food service jobs.

  • #20. Wisconsin
    33/ Yinan Chen // Wikicommons

    #20. Wisconsin

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,825 (4.9% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 280,500
    Food service places in 2016: 12,398
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $8.6 billion

    This state is about more than cheese. Local restaurant chains like Cousins Subs, Kopp's Frozen Custard, and White Tower Hamburgers have made quite the impact on Wisconsin's economy with $8.6 billion in sales in 2017.

  • #19. Massachusetts
    34/ Protophobic // Wikicommons

    #19. Massachusetts

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,852 (5.5% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 334,900
    Food service places in 2016: 15,617
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $17 billion

    Many well-known national brands like Dunkin' Donuts, Friendly's, Boston Market, and Papa Gino's got their start in the Bay State. Today, it offers 4,852 food service industry jobs per 100,000 people.

  • #18. Nebraska
    35/ Raymond Bucko // Flickr

    #18. Nebraska

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,867 (5.8% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 93,900
    Food service places in 2016: 4,086
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $3 billion

    Despite Nebraska's small population, it still offers a higher number of jobs at restaurants and other food service locations. And while this Midwest locale is known for its corn, Nebraska also has a claim to being the godfather of pizza, as the eponymously named chain is headquartered in Omaha.

  • #17. Minnesota
    36/ Cjohnson7 // Wikicommons

    #17. Minnesota

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,885 (6.2% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 274,100
    Food service places in 2016: 9,852
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $9.7 billion

    Though the first Dairy Queen was founded in Illinois, the national chain known for its Blizzards is now headquartered in Minneapolis. The state's capital is known for a wide variety of other tasty culinary offerings, like Pizza Luce, which claims to be Minnesota's best pizza.

  • #16. Iowa
    37/ Iowahwyman // Wikicommons

    #16. Iowa

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,927 (7.1% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 155,500
    Food service places in 2016: 6,175
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $4.4 billion

    One of the Midwest's most cheerful-sounding restaurant chains—Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream—began in East Davenport, in 1972. Happy Joe's is best known for its Taco Joe pizza topped with refried beans, sausage, seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, chips, and taco sauce, of course.

  • #15. New Hampshire
    38/ Jon Platek // Wikicommons

    #15. New Hampshire

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,932 (7.2% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 66,900
    Food service places in 2016: 3,107
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $2.7 billion

    Tiny New Hampshire has around just 3,000 food service places but managed to do $2.7 billion in restaurant sales in 2017. Those numbers are boosted by local hotspots like Moe's Italian Sandwiches, based out of Portsmouth.

  • #14. Colorado
    39/ David Shankbone // Wikicommons

    #14. Colorado

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,939 (7.3% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 281,300
    Food service places in 2016: 11,526
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $12.1 billion

    Chipotle, Qdoba, Smashburger, Noodles & Company, Red Robin, and several other nationally known restaurant chains started in Colorado. Overall, the state made an estimated $12.1 billion in restaurant sales in 2017.

  • #13. Florida
    40/ Clement Bardot // Wikicommons

    #13. Florida

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,949 (7.6% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 1,054,000
    Food service places in 2016: 40,001
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $41.7 billion

    If you love the wings—or the famously friendly waitstaff—you have Florida to thank for Hooters. This popular national chain began in Clearwater in 1983 while Burger King's predecessor was founded in Jacksonville three decades earlier.

  • #12. Delaware
    41/ Tim Kiser // Wikicommons

    #12. Delaware

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,963 (7.9% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 48,000
    Food service places in 2016: 1,922
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $2 billion

    The Delaware food scene is all about local dishes like blue claw crabs, fries doused in vinegar, peaches, and slippery dumplings. Though the state only had 1,922 food service places in 2016, it made an estimated $2 billion in sales in 2017.

  • #11. Ohio
    42/ Tysto // Good Free Photos

    #11. Ohio

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,995 (8.6% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 583,900
    Food service places in 2016: 22,130
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $20.9 billion

    Ohio can claim to be the birthplace of a fair amount of well-known restaurants and fast food chains, including Skyline Chili, Wendy's, and Buffalo Wild Wings. In 2018, the amount of restaurant jobs per 100,000 people in Ohio was 8.6% higher than the national average.

  • #10. Vermont
    43/ Alexius Horatius // Wikicommons

    #10. Vermont

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 4,998 (8.6% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 31,300
    Food service places in 2016: 1,399
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $1 billion

    The food scene in this New England state is all about comfort classics like chicken pot pie, apple pie with aged Vermont cheddar, gravy fries, cider donuts, and of course, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which was founded in Burlington.  

  • #9. Wyoming
    44/ Cliff // Wikicommons

    #9. Wyoming

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 5,037 (9.5% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 29,100
    Food service places in 2016: 1,305
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $1 billion

    Sparsely populated Wyoming has just 1,305 food service places, but it still managed to do a tidy $1 billion in restaurant sales in 2017. One of its most famous haunts is Taco John's, which first got its start in Cheyenne in 1968.

  • #8. Missouri
    45/ Max Pixel

    #8. Missouri

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 5,125 (11.4% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 314,000
    Food service places in 2016: 10,907
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $10.5 billion

    As home to Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis has a claim to being America's beer capital. But the state also has plenty of local delicacies that pair great with a cold one, namely barbecue. The Gateway to the West also houses the headquarters for Panera.

  • #7. North Dakota
    46/ Unimatic 1140 // Wikicommons

    #7. North Dakota

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 5,236 (13.8% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 39,800
    Food service places in 2016: 1,697
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $1.3 billion

    Though small in terms of population, food service industry jobs make up a decent share of North Dakota's classifieds. In 2018, the estate offered 39,800 food service jobs in total, at places such as the homely Burger Time.

  • #6. Montana
    47/ M Readey // Wikicommons

    #6. Montana

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 5,394 (17.2% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 57,300
    Food service places in 2016: 2,669
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $1.8 billion

    The food scene in Big Sky Country might not be as thrilling as some of its other neighbors in the West, but it's still known for local foods like chokecherries, bison, morels, Rocky Mountain oysters, and huckleberries.

  • #5. South Dakota
    48/ Maxpower 2727 // Wikicommons

    #5. South Dakota

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 5,486 (19.2% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 48,400
    Food service places in 2016: 1,848
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $1.3 billion

    The $1.3 billion that South Dakota produced in restaurant sales might pale in comparison to larger states, but the home of Mount Rushmore really outdoes itself in terms of jobs in the industry. South Dakota is a whopping 19.2% above the national average, thanks to successful stops like Sturgis Coffee Company.

  • #4. Rhode Island
    49/ Kenneth Zirkel // Wikicommons

    #4. Rhode Island

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 5,571 (21.1% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 58,900
    Food service places in 2016: 2,805
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $2.4 billion

    Known for local favorites like coffee milk, doughboys, clams casino, and hot wieners, Rhode Island's food scene draws in residents and tourists alike. The share of restaurant jobs in the state is also flying high with 21.1% more food service industry jobs per 100,000 people than the national average. In the summer, lines can get crazy for a Del's Frozen Lemonade.

  • #3. Hawaii
    50/ ErgoSum88 // Wikicommons

    #3. Hawaii

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 6,758 (46.9% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 96,000
    Food service places in 2016: 3,483
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $4.6 billion

    It's only natural that Hawaii's booming tourism industry, which continues to set records for visitor spending, also affords the state a large number of restaurant and food service jobs. Hawaii's 2018 share of food service jobs per 100,000 people was 46.9% higher than the national average.

  • #2. Nevada
    51/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #2. Nevada

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 6,917 (50.3% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 209,900
    Food service places in 2016: 5,867
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $7.2 billion

    Like Hawaii, Nevada also depends heavily on tourism. This is especially true in southern Nevada near Las Vegas, the ever-popular destination for conferences, family vacations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and more. It's fitting that the state's share of food service industry jobs is also extremely high at 50% above the national average.

  • #1. Washington D.C.
    52/ Ted Eytan // Flickr

    #1. Washington D.C.

    Jobs per 100,000 people: 9,808 (113.2% higher than national average)
    Restaurant and food service jobs in 2018: 68,900
    Food service places in 2016: 2,267
    Estimated restaurant sales in 2017: $3.8 billion

    The winner of the #1 spot on this list isn't a state at all, but a city. The District of Columbia has become a prime spot for new chains catering to more health-conscious customers. The nation's capital also has the highest number of food service jobs per 100,000 people at 113.2% above the national average.

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