After two years of little to no growth, the restaurant industry added more chain and independent establishments this spring.

That’s according to “Spring 2012 ReCount,” a new report from The NPD Group. The increase in restaurants is attributed to people eating out more often and spending more money on eating out, both of which are positive signs.

Overall, 2,872 new restaurants were opened between March 2011 and March 2011, marking the first positive growth rate for both types of restaurants in two years. Of the new establishments opened, 1,888 were chain restaurants and the remaining 984 were independent restaurants.

Independent restaurants had it rough over the last two years, losing 1,172 establishments in 2010 and another 1,331 establishments in 2011. However, the number of chain restaurants increased over those years by 2,114 and 1,350, respectively.

“With improvement in restaurant visits and spending, restaurant operators, especially in the quick-service segment, are more willing to invest in new locations,” Greg Starzynski, director of product management for NPD Foodservice, said in a statement.

“However, I expect them to take a more cautious approach to expansion than we saw earlier in the past decade,” he continued. “This is particularly true of the full-service segment, since expansion costs are significantly higher and traffic and spending gains have not been as strong in this segment.”

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