Wit & Wisdom at  the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

Wit & Wisdom was among the prominent restaurant openings in the period covered by a recent restaurant survey. (Baltimore Sun photo/Algerina Perna / November 8, 2011)

The number of independent restaurants in Baltimore has been holding steady, according to the most recent restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group, a market research company.

The Spring 2012 ReCount, which includes chain-operated and independent restaurants open as of March 31, 2012, shows a net decline of exactly two independent restaurants from the previous survey. The census reported 3,067 independent "units" in the spring 2012 survey and 3,065 in the spring 2011 survey.

The census showed a slight uptick in the number of chain-operated units. There were 2,305 such restaurants counted in the 2012 survey, 47 more than in the 2011 survey.

These numbers were in keeping with the national trend, in which restaurant counts showed no statistical increase in either the total number of restaurants or independent units and one percent increase in the number of chain-operated restaurants.

Total restaurant units reached 592,960, an increase of 2,872 units and the first positive change since 2009. The report shows independent restaurants, which have been on the decline since 2009 posted a slight increase of 984 locations. Chain restaurant units were up by 1,888 units to 272,367.

According to NPD, most of the increase in units were in quick serve restaurants. Full service restaurant units, which include casual dining, mid-scale, and fine dining restaurants, posted a 0.2 percent increase from the Spring 2011 ReCount.