Factoring in a weak economy as part of a restaurant business plan to determine if “now” is the time can be quite challenging and maybe impossible in some cities. If your instincts suggest that diners in 2010 and 2011 are eating out less, you are not alone. In the census reported this week, more than 50% of people in America did not dine out last year. Depending on what location in this country your new restaurant will be located, the article theme echoes an important statistic: – “Only 49.3 percent of adults say they “dined out” between fall 2009 and fall 2010, according to recently released figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s the lowest percentage since 2007, when just 48.7 percent of adults said they had dined out in the past year.” Not good news if a restaurant business plan is predicated on national year over year increases going forward. In a separate survey by Zagat, which concentrated on where people eat out in restaurants and in what cities, the findings might surprise you. Hone your restaurant marketing ideas toward Texas markets is our take from the results, such as Houston and San Antonio. Or, reconsider what concept you will need to survive if that choice includes Baltimore. However, many restaurant experts believe major destination markets are still a good bet although the associated costs to entry and local codes can be challenging. Cities such as Washington, DC, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago always seem to buck the trend even in a down economy when it comes to dining out expenditures. Need other tips and ideas? Be sure to get “no-cost help” for a restaurant business plan by subscribing to our blog or visiting the bookstore here.