Fine Dining Up 6 Percent in First Quarter

The increase is the best in about five years

Cash on a plate

Go ahead and eat your heart out (That’s what the rest of America seems to be doing!).

Upscale dining has increased 6 percent in the first quarter, the New York Post reported.

According to information from the NPD Group, the jump was shocking after two straight years of annual declines during the recession.

This increase was the best in almost five years. 

Jonathan Probber, a hospitality industry consultant and educator, believes the increase has to do with people finding more reasons to dine out. 

"While many still struggle financially," Probber said, "a lot of consumers are starting to use a night at a fine restaurant as a replacement for a more expensive reward."

According to NPD, the fine dining industry had the best increase in traffic. Casual dining restaurants decreased 2 percent, and fast-food locations experienced just a 2 percent increase. 

The weather may have had an impact on the increase in fine dining.

"Thanks to unusually mild weather, winter 2012 was a bright spot for the foodservice industry," says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "However, the economic environment will continue to be a challenge for the sector." 

As a whole, the restaurant industry increased its traffic by 1 percent this quarter compared to this time last year. The nation spent $407 billion eating in restaurants in the past year. About $53 billion of that was spend on fine dining establishments. 

What kind of upscale eateries are people spending so much money on? Le Bernardin is one of them, and also happens to be one of the most expensive restaurants in America. Check out the rest of America’s 28 Most Expensive Restaurants.