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Restaurants Move Us – America’s Most Important Industry.

By Restaurant Expert Witness, Howard Cannon




It’s true! . . . the most important things that happen in our lives are celebrated in restaurants, in conjunction with a meal – birthdays, first dates, anniversaries, first kisses, reunions, popping the question, and celebrations of achievement – to name just a few.

In fact, there is no better way – even in this high-tech, internet-driven world that we all live in today – to bond relationships, celebrate milestones, learn life’s lessons, or enjoy idle chit-chat with a dear friend or member of the family than to sit down at a table and break bread – making restaurants the world’s first social networking and the place where real life emotional experiences play out for us all.

These are the precious moments that determine who we are and what we truly value; because, in restaurants, people actually sit across from one another and engage by sharing thoughts, dreams, hurts, goals, and secrets. 

But, during these challenging times, we cannot ignore the enormous economic impact that restaurants play in our lives, as well.  America relies on restaurants for daily sustenance; and, without restaurants of varying types, we would have neither convenient nor affordable access to the much-needed meals that allow us as a society to move forward in our ongoing efforts to strive and thrive. According to recent research, ninety-two (92%) percent of Americans say they enjoy going to restaurants – confirming that dining in a restaurant is one of America’s favorite pastimes that impacts nearly every man, woman, and child in the country. But that still doesn’t tell the whole story . . . 

Restaurants are the second largest employment workforce in the country – employing nearly eleven (11%) percent of the entire U.S. workforce; and, the restaurant industry is supported by more than one-hundred-and-fifty thousand (150,000) product and service providers that employ millions more. The numbers become truly staggering when one realizes that more than fifty (50%) percent of the entire US population has worked in a restaurant during their life. 

Furthermore, nine out of ten restaurants nationwide participate in charitable activities that help to support the local communities that they do business in; and, each year, restaurants provide an estimated three billion dollars ($3 billion) in charitable contributions to a wide variety of wonderful causes. 

Make no mistake about it, restaurants are an American institution like no other and impact us all – in ways that no other industry can.     

Whether it is fast food or fine dining, casual or convenient, a bit extravagant or downright downhome, what we eat and the restaurants where we choose to share these meal occasions are deeply personal – after all, not only are we putting the food and drink created by restaurants into our bodies, but we are creating special moments with those we care most about that will often be a part of our memories for years, and even decades, to come. Take a few moments to reminisce about the grandest achievements and fondest memories of your life, and I am quite certain that you will realize that many of them took place in restaurants. 

Perhaps it was the local diner where you stole your first kiss, or maybe it was the fine dining establishment where “Mr. Right” popped the question . . . or maybe the pizza place where your son wildly celebrated his birthday, or the coffee shop where you enjoyed the last long chat with the uncle who taught you how to fish. Maybe you will recall the fast food place with the perfect French fries, or the little bistro where you asked your best friend to be your maid of honor. Maybe you will remember the steak house where you got your first job, or the franchised restaurant where you were given the opportunity to build a career so you could buy your first home . . .  

These are the real moments that truly make a lasting impact on our lives and the lives of those nearest and dearest to our hearts; and, it is in these restaurants where we laugh and smile, listen and cry, love and live, work and grow.

Restaurants are spread throughout the world, but no society on the face of the earth relies on restaurants the way America does. And no where can one find the choices, diversity, excellence, and convenience provided by restaurants here, within these United States; and, just like American families, restaurants come in all shapes, styles, and sizes – with each and every one of them playing a critically important role in the overall picture. We can rely on and experience a wide range of service styles from fine dining to quick casual, and from casual dining to fast food and everything in between. We can savor the absolute best cuisines from French to Italian, from Japanese to Greek, from Chinese to Indian, and from American to Mexican. We can savor the best flavor profiles, the best burgers and fries, the best pizzas and pastas, the best chicken, steak, seafood and pork entrees, and the absolute widest varieties of appetizers, salads, deserts, and beverages. America offers the fastest, the most convenient, the most affordable, and the most outstanding restaurants in the world.

If you think I love restaurants… you are absolutely right. 

In fact, as a society, American’s have had a long-standing love affair with restaurants that has lasted for many, many years and now with the high visibility of celebrity chefs, cooking contests, restaurant reviews, and restaurant TV and Food networks… restaurants are more popular than ever before.  

I, personally, began to gain my passion for restaurants on a memorable Friday night in 1978. That’s when I got my first real job working in the dish pit of a local steakhouse in Boaz, Wisconsin. 

I’ll never forget that first intense experience – the feeling of shock when the waitresses handed me crinkled-up dollar bills and handfuls of change from their aprons; the memory of savoring my first-ever New York Strip steak with a fully loaded baked potato; the confidence gained when I was handed my first paycheck; and, how proud I was of myself when I received a promotion from busboy to waiter. 

My childhood was tough; and, I cannot express in words how badly a nearly blind, scrawny, fatherless, basically friendless, 14-year old boy needed something – anything, to hang his hat on. 

Quite frankly, I look back now and I know for certain it was this love of restaurants, and all that they are, that challenged me, drove me, and provided for me.

Many years have passed for me since that first night, and I cherish every milestone achieved and feel a deep sense of pride, accomplishment, and belonging because of each of them.

It is with this continued passion for restaurants – an industry that has provided for me, my family, my people, and my customers – along with the endless array of memories seared deep in my soul, and the ever growing number of opportunities still out in front of us all, that inspires me to ask you to celebrate restaurants.

Because think how different all of our lives would be without them… because Restaurants Move Us.

Restaurant Expert Witness, Howard Cannon

Restaurant Expert Witness, Howard Cannon is the author of Restaurant OSHA Safety and Security©2016 – the Book of Restaurant Industry Standards & Best Practices and the world’s most sought after Forensic Testifying Expert for state and federal courts with more than 230 cases and several hundred pre-litigation consulting matters to his credit. As a forensic expert, he is called on by judges, juries, plaintiffs and defense lawyers, members of the media and industry executives to provide unbiased opinions pertaining to an astonishing variety of incidents in which employees and customers become injured, harmed, sickened, busted, broken, maimed or killed in restaurants and bars across America and around the world. He is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting Your Own Restaurant© (2001) and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting Your Own Restaurant©-second edition (2005), published and distributed in bookstores in more than 76 countries around the globe. He has appeared on countless national and local television and radio shows, and been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Live with Anderson Cooper, Hotel Impossible, The Travel Channel, CBS, and Fox. For more information about Restaurant Expert Witness, Howard Cannon, please visit


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