PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- This year, independent operators overtook their chain counterparts in unit growth for the restaurant industry, according to a survey by NPD Group, an international marketing information provider based here. The research indicated that restaurant growth as a whole was up 3%, though chain restaurants added only 1.5% to their totals from last year. Much of the expansion was credited to independent operators, who established 4% more restaurants than they did in 1997. ...

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