Stumbling Restaurant Sentiment Reflective of Slow Sales Growth

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • The Capital Grille
  • Eddie's V's Prime Seafood
  • Season's 52
  • Fleming's Steakhouse
  • True Food Kitchen
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • The Capital Grille
  • Truluck's
  • Mi Cocina
  • Eddie's V's Prime Seafood
  • Season's 52
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • Ninety Nine Restaurants
  • The Capital Grille
  • Abuelo's
  • Eddie's V's Prime Seafood
  • Truluck's

Connecting the Dots on Performance

The brands that had the highest net sentiment around ambiance grew their sales by 3.6%*  *Data from 2019 YTD

Despite the stumbling sentiment for ambiance overall, top performing brands* based on sales have been able to achieve much better ambiance net sentiment scores than their competitors. More than food or beverage, ambiance most determine if a guest is likely to return. Of course, awful food will ruin a restaurant visit, but food executed within the intended parameters will not move the needle as much as a nice, inviting atmosphere throughout a guest's restaurant experience according to TDn2K research.

What do guests look for when describing a restaurant's ambiance? What are the key words have the highest value? The terms used most by guests when describing ambiance are "appearance," "clean,” and "décor.” It is important to highlight that appearance and especially cleanliness are things that can fall into operations and the people side of the business. Plus, they are things that can be worked on and improved every day.

We know ambiance is important in the eyes of the guest and it is a top differentiating factor among brands. But how different is performance? According to TDn2K, restaurant brands that consistently had top same-store sales performance going back to 2017 had, on average, 12.7 percentage point higher net sentiment for their ambiance compared with the rest of the industry in 2019 as of June.

*based on same-store sales growth

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    phoenix, az
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    philadelphia, pa

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

    new york, ny
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    new york, ny
  • Value

    seattle, wa

It is no surprise to find some markets in Florida among the ones with most positive restaurant guest sentiment again in June. Among the largest 25 markets in the country, Orlando had the most positive sentiment based on restaurant food and service. Tampa topped the list for most positive ambiance.

Philadelphia is an interesting market to keep an eye on is Philadelphia. Restaurant guests in this market were the most positive based on value and intent to return. This market was also the most positive based on these two attributes back in April.

San Francisco guests are also continuing the trend of being less enthusiastic about their restaurant experiences. This DMA had the lowest guest sentiment based on restaurant food and service. Rounding up the list of least positive sentiment were New York and Seattle. New York had the lowest beverage and ambiance sentiment and Seattle was at the bottom of the list for value and intent to return.

However, this is not necessarily indicative of restaurant experiences being worse in those markets. It can also be a reflection of higher expectations or more willingness to express negative sentiment online that is driving some of these subpar scores.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • florida63.2% Positive
  • western59.0% Positive
  • mountain plains58.1% Positive
Worst
  • mid-atlantic54.2% Positive
  • new england51.9% Positive
  • ny-nj50.7% Positive

Good news for the industry is the fact that, again, all of the regions of the country had over 50 percent of their online restaurant comments and reviews classified as positive.

The region with the highest restaurant positive sentiment was Florida, the only one where over 60 percent of all mentions were positive. Also, the Western region and Mountain plains, two regions that are no strangers to the best performing list, are among the most positive.

As has been constantly the case, guests in the northeast part of the country tend to be less positive when rating their restaurant experiences. The regions with the weakest restaurant sentiment during June were the Mid-Atlantic, New England and New York-New Jersey.

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The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot is produced by White Box Social Intelligence™, a TDn2K Product™. WBSI 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 White Box Social 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.

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