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Restaurant “Food” Receives High Marks, “Cleanliness” Scores Still Slipping

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • Seasons 52
  • Eddie V's
  • Fleming's
  • The Capital Grille
  • Tupelo Honey Cafe
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • Seasons 52
  • The Capital Grille
  • Eddie V's
  • Fleming's
  • Cooper's Hawk Winery
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • Seasons 52
  • Eddie V's
  • The Capital Grille
  • Fleming's
  • Tupelo Honey Cafe

Connecting the Dots on Performance

The second quarter of 2021 brought a swell in restaurant sales and traffic. Same-store sales growth improved by 10 percentage points over Q1, while traffic improved by 9 percentage points. But as more guests returned to restaurants, that put a lot of pressure on operators, especially considering the severe staffing crisis facing the industry in recent months. Given this convergence of factors, it was not surprising to find that guest sentiment slipped across all categories during Q2.

Sentiment based on restaurant “ambiance” dropped the most for both limited-service and full-service brands. Guests were aligned on what component of “ambiance” drove the decline as sentiment for “cleanliness” dropped significantly across the industry.

In the case of full-service restaurants, “cleanliness” net sentiment* dropped by 13 percentage points during the quarter. Some of the common themes mentioned regarding “cleanliness” focused on the tables and floor of the restaurant, high-touch items such as tableware and cutlery or the state of the bathrooms. Many of the comments signaled a return to basics in terms of “cleanliness”, touching upon the kind of expectations that existed pre-pandemic and not necessarily tying them back to the safety and health concerns that drove the guest’s focus over the last year.

Similarly, “cleanliness” net sentiment for limited-service restaurants fell by 16 percentage points during the quarter. Although more than 70% of all limited-service sales continue to go through off-premise channels, there are challenges keeping restaurants clean for guests that decide to come in. The cleanliness-related themes commonly covered on online reviews during Q2 included assessments of tables and floors, bathrooms and mentions of trash found in various parts of the restaurant.

*Net sentiment is a value representing the percentage of positive mentions minus the percentage of negative mentions for a specific attribute of the restaurant experience.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    houston, tx
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    indianapolis, in

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    san francisco, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    san francisco, ca
  • Intent to Return

    seattle, wa
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    st. louis, mo
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    miami, fl
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    st. louis, mo

The rapid rise in COVID cases in Florida has not yet affected most of its major markets. Orlando topped the list of metropolitan areas with the highest restaurant sentiment based on “food”, “beverage” and “ambiance”, while Tampa posted the most positive sentiment for restaurant “service”. Miami is the exception in Florida with the lowest net sentiment during July based on “ambiance”. This attribute of the restaurant experience has been key during the COVID era due to its close connection to cleanliness. Furthermore, last month Miami barely made the bottom 10 based on the lowest “ambiance” sentiment. During July, its net sentiment tumbled 4.4 points and put them at the bottom of the list.

Things are not looking bright for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area. This major market posted the worst restaurant same-store sales growth during July as well as the lowest net sentiment for restaurant “food” and “service”. It also had the second-lowest net sentiment based on guests’ stated “intent to return”.

Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and Boston were on the list of markets with the lowest “intent to return” sentiment during July, as well as the worst same-store sales results during the month.

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The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot (RGSS) is produced by data from Black Box Guest Intelligence™. Guest Intelligence is tracking over 190 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 data set focuses on six key attributes of the restaurant industry experience: food, service, ambiance, beverage, value and intent to return.

The RGSS algorithm determines the highest ranking brands based on sentiment. 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.

Restaurant Operators

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