Though Newsweek has declared the recession to be over, many American restaurant owners would say the proof is in the pudding. Market research group NPD reports that from April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009, about 4,000 restaurants across America were shuttered, with independent restaurants taking a hit of 2%. Greg Starzynski of NPD, says, "The recession this past year has had the most-negative impact on the small chains and independents, and full service restaurants that were performing poorly prior to the economic downturn." Why the dramatic closures? NPD attributes the decline to "fewer dinner visits to restaurants by parties with kids," but also mentions that independent restaurants are "having a hard time competing with the resources and marketing power of major chains." We're going to go with the latter explanation.