Once again Texas is among the nation's leaders in restaurant sales and employment. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast, sales in Lone Star state are projected to reach $52.4 billion and 1.3 million Texans will be employed in the restaurant industry. Nationally, the industry is expected to post sales of $782.7 billion and employ 14.4 million people in more than 1 million locations. "Despite a slowdown in the energy sector, the Texas economy is strong, diverse and driven by a growing population," said Richie Jackson, TRA CEO. "Our industry ranks the highest in sales per establishment at $1.025 million, and, of the top 10 most populous states, we have the lowest number of establishments relative to population with only 1.48 per 1000 people. Texas remains a great market of opportunity for restaurateurs." This is the seventh consecutive year the restaurant industry has seen real sales growth. But it isn't all smooth sailing. Restaurant operators are facing a number of challenges including legislative and regulatory pressures, labor cost increases, cyber-security and shifting workforce demographics, to name just a few. These issues challenge profit margins and complicate business operations. The complete 2016 Forecast is available to Texas Restaurant Association restaurant members for $75 and to non-members for $250. Members can also download the Sales & Economic Forecast section of the report for free.