Restaurant operators gained confidence about future economic and business conditions in the first month of this year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s index of restaurant activity. Despite increased optimism, the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) declined 0.3 percent from December's 22-month high due to operators' reports of softening sales and traffic in January.

"Although the current situation indicators remained soft in January, the Expectations Index rose above 100 for the first time in nine months," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's research and knowledge group, in a statement. The Expectations Index--which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions--reached 100.1 in January, a 0.2 percent gain from December.

To read the NRA's complete analysis for January, visit