In case you haven’t noticed there has been a lot of restaurants going bankrupt or cutting stores across the Nation. In the last several weeks, the picture that we’ve gotten is the restaurant industry hasn’t exactly been a promising one. Dunkin Donuts saw traffic slip at its U.S. locations in the latest quarter. Potbelly Sandwich Works said it expects to be challenged by a “more cautious consumer” in the near future. And McDonald’s said its sales were hampered by a broad-based retreat from dining out.

Talk of a “restaurant recession” has been percolating on the Internet after an investment bank analyst used the provocative phrase in a research note to describe where the dining industry — and the overall economy — might be headed. So what’s going on here? Here, we break down a few popular theories. CONTINUE