New research from Technomic shows that diners in many U.S. cities consider restaurant cleanliness to be more important than the quality of the food.

According to Technomic’s survey of 12,295 consumers throughout the U.S., the cleanliness of restaurant interiors, as well as dishes, glasses, and silverware, was consistently ranked as having the highest importance when choosing a restaurant.

Key insights from the study include:

  • Diners in Chicago ranked the quality of food as their No. 1 concern when choosing a restaurant, with the cleanliness of their dishware, silverware, and glassware second and the cleanliness of a restaurant’s interior third.
  • Denver respondents ranked the cleanliness of a restaurant’s dishware, silverware, and glassware as important as the taste and quality of food.
  • For New Yorkers, the taste and quality of food and the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen area tied as top concerns.
  • San Francisco respondents ranked the cleanliness of a restaurant’s interior as their primary concern, with the quality of the food second.
  • Diners in Washington, D.C., ranked the cleanliness of their silverware, dishes, and glasses as most important, above food taste and quality.

Restaurateurs can learn what people value most in their dining experience at, which includes an interactive map showing city-specific results of the survey.

To highlight the importance of restaurant cleanliness, Ecolab is taking its “Why Clean Matters” campaign on a coast-to-coast tour. Through November 17, 2011, the “Why Clean Matters” tour will visit select cities and meet with restaurant operators to highlight the importance of restaurant cleanliness and demonstrate the latest technology to help ensure consumers are pleased with their dining experience.

“Understanding and anticipating consumer preferences is vital to our customers’ success,” says Nicolas Granucci, vice president, Foodservice Marketing at Ecolab. “Cleanliness is very important to restaurant guests across the U.S., and it is our mission to provide restaurant operators the products, services and know-how they need to give guests the clean experience they expect.”

Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECLNews) is a cleaning, sanitizing, food safety, and infection prevention company.

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