GHRA Reveal

Foodie power: Restaurants have a staggering $13.2 billion economic impact in Houston

Foodie power: Restaurants have a staggering $13.2 billion economic impact in Houston

Triniti, restaurant, diners, crowd, November 2012
Restaurants like Triniti contributed over $13 billion to the local Houston economy. Triniti Restaurant/Facebook

In my opinion, everyone should wait tables at least once — it gives you a lifelong respect for the people that work in the service industry.

Luckily, according to the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, we're about halfway there. The GHRA unveiled the economic impact of Harris County's hospitality industry at the Founder's Club inside the Hobby Center on Tuesday, and some of the numbers might surprise you.

 That makes the economic impact of the hospitality industry more than a dozen times bigger than that of Houston's art industry. 

Not only do one out of every two people work in the industry at some point in their lifetime, but restaurants, bars and hotels in Harris County directly employed more than 162,000 people in 2011 — that's one out of every 11 private-sector jobs in Houston. When you include those jobs that are indirectly tied to the hospitality industry, like food suppliers, the numbers of jobs created by the industry jumps to nearly 204,000.

But it's more than just jobs that the hospitality industry brings to Houston. According to a study commissioned by the Texas Restaurant Association and conducted by Ernst & Young, Harris County hotels and restaurants had a total economic impact of $13.2 billion in 2011. That figure includes $7.9 billion in sales and $5.3 billion in indirect and induced economic activity.

In addition, state and local taxes paid by the hospitality industry topped $1.5 billion, including $740 in sales tax remitted on consumer purchases.

"The combined efforts of the industry have resulted in an apparent economic boon to the Houston economy; the vibrancy of our local industry is a major draw within our city and the surrounding metropolitan area," GHRA president Reggie Coachman says. "The economic success of the region’s hospitality industry is directly linked to the thousands of owners, employees, suppliers and wholesalers that support it."

That makes the economic impact of the hospitality industry more than a dozen times bigger than that of Houston's art industry, which generates $977 million in local economic activity.

No offense to artists, but it tastes better too.