According to the Census Bureau, the nearly 71 million families living in the United States in 1998 marked an increase of almost 6 million families in 10 years. All these clans have to eat somewhere, so get ready for a boom in family-style restaurants.
"The segment serves an important niche-families with children-whereas theme restaurants are aimed more toward social events for adults," says Bill Pierquet, vice president of development for Friendly's Restaurants Franchise Inc.
Couple the growing number of families with a steadily increasing teen population (almost 16 million 14- to 17-year-olds in 1998, according to the Census), and you'll find parents in the market for kid-friendly environments and healthy alternatives to fast food.
Franchises eating up the market include Denny's Inc., International House of Pancakes Inc., Friendly's and Huddle House.