Top National Restaurant Chains Results 2012 from Nations Restaurant News

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Nations Restaurant News releases its Consumer Picks report 2012 and Marble Slab Creamery, The Cheesecake Factory and Cracker Barrel win the top scores. Diners say food quality and cleanliness matter most.

top restaurant chains of 2012

Nation's Restaurant News Consumer Picks

“The customers have spoken,” said Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of foodservice strategies at WD Partners. “Knowing what they think and exceeding their expectations is the only way for restaurants to succeed in this economy.”

Diners say food quality and cleanliness matter most at restaurants in annual study from Nation’s Restaurant News and WD Partners

Marble Slab Creamery, The Cheesecake Factory and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store proved to be fan favorites in the second annual Consumer Picks survey.

The three restaurant brands, representing limited service, casual dining and family dining, respectively, each won highest overall scores for giving customers what they want, based on feedback from more than 5,300 diners.

The online survey, conducted in late May by NRN survey partner WD Partners, asked consumers to rate restaurants they had visited in the prior six months on 10 attributes: food quality, value, cleanliness, service, menu variety, reputation, atmosphere, likelihood to recommend, likelihood to return and — new this year — craveability. The results reflect diners’ impressions of 152 restaurant brands made during 130,000 customer visits.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • Customers said food quality mattered most, regardless of whether they were visiting a limited-service or full-service restaurant. In 2011, cleanliness was the most important attribute to diners at fast feeders and family restaurants.
  • Value, while still a factor in where diners visit, was less important than food quality, cleanliness and service — despite the stop-and-go economy.

“The customers have spoken,” said Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of foodservice strategies at WD Partners. “Knowing what they think and exceeding their expectations is the only way for restaurants to succeed in this economy.”

Full Details of the 2012 Consumer Picks survey, including the score breakdowns of all chains and attributes, can be found in the Aug. 6 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News, the restaurant industry’s No. 1 source of foodservice business intelligence. You can find more information on the Top National Restaurant Chains 2012 - Consumer Picks Survey on @NRNonline.

In addition to the performance rankings, the Aug. 6 issue highlights the attributes that matter most to customers and the restaurant brands that appeal to different demographics, including men, women, Millennials and Gen Xers.

The top-ranking 2012 Consumer Picks brands are:

Top 10 Limited-Service Restaurants
1)    Marble Slab Creamery
2)    Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza
3)    In-N-Out Burger
4)    Ben & Jerry’s
5)    Chick-fil-A
6)    Haagen-Dazs
7)    Cold Stone Creamery
8)    Firehouse Subs
9)    Bruster’s Real Ice Cream
10)     Culver’s

Top 10 Casual Restaurants
1)    The Cheesecake Factory
2)    P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
3)    Bonefish Grill
4)    Olive Garden
5)    Carrabba’s Italian Grill
6)    Mimi’s Cafe
7)    Texas Roadhouse
8)    Outback Steakhouse
9)    Red Lobster
10)     Buca di Beppo

“Congratulations to this year’s Consumer Picks high-scorers,” said Robin Lee Allen, executive editor of Nation’s Restaurant News. “These brands clearly are giving their customers what they want.”

About WD Partners
WD Partners helps global food and retail brands improve through strategy and design. Research conducted by WD Partners’ Insights group is part of the company’s integrated approach to enhancing the customer experience and brand performance. For more information, please visit http://www.wdpartners.com.

About Nation’s Restaurant News
Nation’s Restaurant News is the restaurant industry’s No. 1 source for foodservice business intelligence, offering a variety of print, digital and live-event products. NRN is based in New York and owned by Penton Media. For more information, please visit http://www.nrn.com.

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Robin Lee Allen
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