CHICAGO (WBBM) — The restaurant industry is hoping for a rebound in the New Year.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy reports, sales projections for this year are slightly higher, but it will take a while.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy Reports

Chicago-based restaurant consultant Technomic projects a modest 1.6 percent increase in 2011, partly because of higher prices.

But there is still a problem of high unemployment among people between the ages of 18 and 34, a demographic that typically eats out more.

Customers are still cost-conscious, using coupons more, and cutting back a bit on tipping and valet parking.

The fast casual category is expected to be the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry.