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The Happy Customer Index

10 emerging casual-dining restaurant chains consumers love

The top emerging restaurant brands generated higher guest satisfaction scores than their established peers

The Happy Customer Index leverages proprietary data from Merchant Centric to understand which brands are checking all of the customer satisfaction boxes — from timeliness to cleanliness, and from price/value to staff demeanor. This data is pulled from millions of ratings, reviews and comments across sites such as Google, TripAdvisor and others.

For our index, we have taken a deeper look at three key themes — food, price/value and loyalty/referral — to determine the strongest casual dining brands related to these themes. Merchant Centric calls this measure a brand’s Theme Performance Score (TPS). If the TPS for a brand on a theme is higher than one, it indicates that guests mention the brand positively more often than negatively; for instance, a score of 3.5 indicates that guests mentioned that theme positively 3.5 times more than it was mentioned negatively. Conversely, a score of 0.5 indicates the theme is mentioned positively half as much as it is negatively.

Emerging brands are defined as having 20 locations or less during the measurement period. Per this TPS ratings system, here are the strongest emerging casual dining brands, as measured from February 2022 through January 2023.

Click through the gallery to see the top 10 emerging casual dining restaurant chains, and go here to see the top 10 established brands.

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