Let's face it, a lot of us have big appetites.
So it may be a surprise to you to see several restaurants in our area recently close.
Could it be a sign of the economy?
The latest numbers, released by the Commerce Department, show sales from the food and beverage industry nationwide were down 0.2% in November.
Customers aren't surprised. They've noticed plenty of empty tables at area restaurants.
"You can go out and pick and choose and get in, in a matter of minute," said Bill Turner of Roanoke.
"The economy I'm sure probably people can't afford to eat out as much," said Pam Vile of Wytheville.
News 7 talked to the owner of the Roanoker Restaurant. Butch Craft told News 7 business is up this year, thanks to the restaurant's 70th anniversary and a mention in the Southern Living Cookbook.
But Craft acknowledges the recession has taken its toll. "We haven't had to cut any people out but we've had to cut hours. It's been tough," said Craft.
It's been so tough some restaurants haven't survived. The Flat Rock Grille near Valley View Mall in Roanoke closed 3 years ago. Both Texas Steakhouses in Roanoke recently closed. In the New River Valley, Awful Arthur's in downtown Blacksburg and Famous Anthony's in Christiansburg have also shut their doors.
Business leaders say they're not surprised because the economy is still struggling.
Joyce Waugh is the Director of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. "We've seen improvements and then we've seen some slacking off," said Waugh.
There are signs the restaurant industry is turning around.
In recent months, Longhorn Steakhouse and Chipotle have opened in Roanoke.
Sales are also up in some hometowns.
Roanoke County reports revenues from its meals tax are up 5% so far this year, after declining the last two years.
The Town of Christiansburg shows its meals tax revenues are up 4% so far this year, after declining the last two years.
Jill Loop is the Acting Director of Roanoke County's Economic Development Department. Talking about the state of the restaurant industry in our area, she told News 7 "It's holding its own right now. There is some projection for growth this year."
So why then are we still seeing restaurants closing? Do we have too many?
Roanoke City has nearly 500 restaurants alone.
According to the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, Roanoke has more restaurants per capita than many other cities of similar size.
We asked business leaders whether this area is maxed out. "I do. I think it is maxed out," said Butch Craft, owner of the Roanoker Restaurant.
"I don't think we are maxed out. I think Roanokers like to eat. I think the numbers of proving that," said Jill Loop, Acting Director of Roanoke County's Economic Development Department. Loop points out over a decades time, revenues from its meals tax are up 27%.
"As many wonderful restaurants that we have, I don't think we're maxed out," said Joyce Waugh, Director of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.
We asked a simple question, but didn't exactly get a simple answer.
It is also important to point out starting a restaurant isn't easy, even during good times. 60% will eventually fail.