According to a recent National Restaurant Assn. survey, restaurant patronage in the United States increased 10% between 1982 and 1986. In that period, business increased 26% for Italian restaurants, 43% for Mexican places and 54% for establishments serving Asian food of one kind or another.
Using these statistics as a jumping-off point, Pennsylvania State University geography professor Wilbur Zelinsky, in a recent issue of American Demographics magazine, came up with a number of interesting facts about ethnic restaurants in North America:
New York had the most ethnic restaurants of any major metropolitan area in the northern U.S.; one smaller metropolitan area, Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio, had none.
Ethnic restaurants in general were most common in the Northeast, the West and throughout metropolitan areas of Canada. There were fewer in the Midwest, the South and the western parts of the Mid-Atlantic states--with Florida, Texas and Oklahoma being exceptions to the rule.
In general, North Americans were avoiding the cuisines of the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Germany.
Chinese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants accounted for more than 70% of all ethnic places in the U.S. and Canada.
There were no Bulgarian restaurants in metropolitan North America.
ON THE MENU: A UCLA Extension program, beginning Saturday, will offer inside looks at Pane Caldo, Sofi's, Popolo and the Grill, with cooking demonstrations and lunches included, under the tutelage of Naomi Shuwarger. A call to (213) 206-8120 will reveal more. . . . Some 30 chefs and a number of wineries will show their stuff at the second annual (here we go again) "Great Chefs of Orange County" festival Sunday, Nov. 8, from 4 p.m. at the Dana Point Resort in Dana Point. Proceeds will go to the Orange County Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. Call (213) 641-8152 or the resort itself for information.
SPECIAL MEALS: The Sabroso Mexican restaurant in Venice is having a Halloween celebration Saturday with a special Halloween menu and live music. Show up in costume and receive a free glass of Sangria. Sabroso is located at 1029 Washington Blvd. Call (213) 399-3832 for more information. . . . And Marion Cunningham, author of "The Breakfast Book," will be at the Citrus Restaurant, 6703 Melrose Ave., with chef Michel Richard next Sunday for a special breakfast sponsored by the American Institute of Wine and Food. Tickets are $30 for members, $35 for non-members. Breakfast will begin at 10:30 a.m. Call (213) 857-0034 for more information.