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Coronavirus Toll on Restaurant Sentiment, as Swift and Severe as on Restaurant Sales

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • Flemings
  • Seasons 52
  • Eddie V's
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Tupelo Honey Cafe
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • smoothie king
  • eddie v's
  • Seasons 52
  • Fleming's
  • Famous Dave's of America
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • Smoothie King
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Bahama Breeze
  • BJ's Restaurants
  • Chick-fil-A

Connecting the Dots on Performance

Restaurant mentions increased as dining rooms reopened
Service increasingly important

There seems to be a lot of pent up demand for dining out at restaurants. According to a recent survey of 1,000 consumers by Lisa W. Miller & Associates, 87% of them said that dining out was the first thing that they wanted to do once the restrictions were lifted. It was also listed as the activity that gives respondents the most joy. As restrictions get eased at the state level, as well as many consumers simply getting tired of cooking and eating at home, online chatter based on restaurants has increased substantially over the last 2 weeks.

In the first 13 days of May, the total number of online restaurant mentions is already 79% of the total number of mentions recorded for the entire month of April. Furthermore, the data suggests it is that possibility of dining out that may be fueling those online conversations. Analyzing the data for Texas and Georgia, 2 of the biggest states that started reopening their restaurants the earliest, the relative increase in number of restaurant mentions escalated even further.

So, what are guests talking about? During April the number one topic was food, followed by service. This makes sense considering the vast majority of restaurant interactions during the month were off-premise and thus, the quality and appearance of the food when finally consumed was central to the experience, while service was slightly less present in the transaction.

But, during the first two weeks of May we are already noticing service becoming the number 1 topic discussed, with food taking the second spot. As restaurants start reopening, guests are once again becoming vigilant on service, especially as it relates to meeting their expectations regarding keeping them safe.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    raleigh, nc
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    los angeles, ca
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    new york, ny

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    raleigh, nc
  • Service

    seattle, wa
  • Intent to Return

    seattle, wa
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    new york, ny
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    los angeles, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    raleigh, nc

The shock to the restaurant industry’s sales also brought some interesting results when it comes to guest sentiment at the local level. Although Orlando, FL typically tops the list among major markets as the one with the most positive restaurant sentiment based on majority of attributes of the restaurant experience, Orlando was the most positive DMA based only on food and ambiance during April.

Meanwhile, a new trend seems to be guests in areas of the country where some of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred rallying around restaurants and topping the country in intent to return. 3 of the 4 DMAs with most positive intent to return guest sentiment in April were Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. The latter was the market with the highest intent to return in March as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases was growing rapidly last month.

However, this does not seem to be the case for all guests across the country. In Seattle, the epicenter of where the outbreak began about 2 months ago, guests are the least positive in terms of their intent to return to those restaurants they are mentioning online. Perhaps the initial rally around restaurants may wear off after some time passes and the realities of dealing with the complexities of operating restaurants under this new environment set in.

The newly launched Restaurant Recovery Sales Flash is open to all operators. Includes sales & traffic, off-premise and state by state performance. Collected and distributed 3 times per week. Click here to participate. 

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The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot is produced by data from Guest Intelligence™, a Black Box Intelligence Product™. Guest Intelligence is tracking over 192 brands to benchmark customer satisfaction and is the only online tool that integrates with operational performance data to validate the impact on financial performance. The algorithm determining ranking brands is based on sentiment and determined by Black Box Guest Intelligence. Brands included in this monthly snapshot must have a total of at least 250 mentions for the month. Restaurants must have a minimum number of units to be eligible as well. DMA rankings consider only the largest 25 areas.