My name is Paul Mendoza, and I will be presenting on the fast-growing food service industry at the Oceans of Opportunities Job Fair set for March 19 at the Galveston Island Convention Center, 5600 Seawall Blvd., in Galveston.

The National Restaurant Association predicts that sales in the food service industry will reach $683.4 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent from last year’s $659 billion. Higher sales translate to higher employment, and 2014 will mark the 15th straight year restaurant industry employment growth will outpace overall employment growth in the country.

This number is significant given the economic downturn experienced in recent years. Last year, our industry reported robust employment growth of 3.3 percent compared to total U.S. employment growth of 1.6 percent. The restaurant industry has seen a 13.4 percent jump in employment in the last 10 years and a further 9.6 percent rise is anticipated during the next 10 years.

And while these are commendable growth rates, the numbers for Texas will be even higher.

We are blessed to be one of the states leading both the sales and employment trends. For 2014, a 4.7 percent employment growth is anticipated for the restaurant industry, raising total jobs to 1,117,300 spread across 40,000 locations. Sales at Texas restaurants are projected to reach $42.6 billion this year.

In the next 10 years, restaurant employment in the state is expected to grow 15.3 percent to some 1,288,100 jobs. That figure represents an additional 170,800 jobs after 2014.

The Houston-Galveston area will continue to see its share of this growth. Other states expected to boost restaurant industry employment above the national average include Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Georgia.

Meanwhile, industry leaders anticipate local sourcing and nutritious options to continue as consumer trends. Healthy options for children and gluten-free are mentioned frequently. About 20 percent of consumers say technology options are important, especially among ages 18 to 34. The majority of consumers (three out of five) say they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on its eco-friendly practices.

If you are interested in the Culinary Arts, visit with me March 19 or call me at 409-944-1304.

Paul Mendoza is the chef for the Galveston College Culinary Arts Program.

Paul Mendoza is the chef for the Galveston College Culinary Arts Program.

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