Consumer Picks: What guests really think

In an uncertain economic climate and an ever-changing industry, the customer experience has never been as important to restaurants as it is today.

To better understand the elements that diners value in their dining experiences, Nation’s Restaurant News and WD Partners of Dublin, Ohio, developed the Consumer Picks survey, a comprehensive study of customer attitudes toward 139 restaurant brands in different segments. The results, which were culled from 6,800 responses, are presented exclusively in our Sept. 5th issue of Nation’s Restaurant News, with much of the information available at the Consumer Picks page [2] on NRN.com [2].

Restaurants were broken into three industry segments: limited service, with 92 chains; casual and fine dining, with 35 chains; and family, with 12 brands. Respondents then rated restaurants on nine different attributes, including food quality, menu variety and service and value. Learn more about Consumer Picks methodology [3].

[2]In the casual-dining segment, the largest in the industry, Bonefish Grill [pictured left] ranked highest among consumers, with P.F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory finishing second and third, respectively.

When it came to limited-service, pizza chain Papa Murphy’s scored highest, followed by In-N- Out and Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop.

Also available online for the 2011 Consumer Picks special report: Watch videos featuring Dennis Lombardi [2], vice president of foodservice strategies for WD Partners, as he gives his insights and takeaways on how the top-rated brands in each segment stack up and what guests want.

For the full Consumer Picks special report, pick up the September 5th issue of Nation's Restaurant News.