Restaurants are a driving force in Virginia’s economy. They provide jobs and build careers for thousands of people, and play a vital role in local communities throughout the state.

There are over 15,000 eating and drinking establishments in Virginia, with annual sales over $18 billion. In the state, there are over 378,000 restaurant and food service jobs – 9% of total employment in Virginia. See more details specific to Virginia here.

Nationwide, restaurant industry sales are projected to total $863 billion in 2019 (up from $590 billion in 2010), and the industry employs 15.3 million Americans. The industry is on the move, too, having added 3 million jobs since 2009 and expected to add 1.6 million new jobs by 2029. Download the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, other research reports, monthly restaurant-related economic indicators, or analysis and commentary from industry experts.

The industry remains strong because of the work of passionate people in the restaurants, but also due to the work of those behind the scenes at organizations like the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association and the National Restaurant Association, who work every day to promote the industry and advocate for members.

Restaurants play an integral role in many people’s lives – as a place to meet friends and family, as a first job for young people, and as a way to strengthen the social fabric of our communities. Restaurants contribute to the local economy but also support the needs of the community through events, fundraisers, and an opportunity to connect.

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Berkely Plantation Photo Courtesy of:

First Thanksgiving

The Berkeley Plantation in Charles City held the first Thanksgiving on December 4, 1619.


Oldest Restaurant

The Red Fox Inn located in Middleburg. It is also the oldest registered inn in the country.

Red Fox Inn Photo Courtesy of:
Tuckahoe Plantation Photo Courtesy of:

First Cookbook

Mary Randolf, born and raised at Tuckahoe Plantation, penned The Virginia House, the first American cookbook.


Classic Virginia Foods

Drawn Food

Foods Virginia is known for:

  • Chesapeake Bay blue crab
  • Virginia oysters
  • Peanuts
  • Maple syrup
  • Smithfield ham
  • Brunswick stew
  • Virginia wine
  • Apples