Nostalgia wins out
Amid national brand favorites like Target, Trader Joe’s, and Costco, 14 casual dining chains emerged as leaders on Yelp’s first-ever Most Loved Brands Report, released earlier this month. Bloomin’ Brands in particular got some love, with three of its restaurant concepts making the list.
To determine America’s most-loved brands, Yelp looked at restaurant, food, and retail brands with more than 200 locations across 25-plus states that had 500 or more reviews, and at least one review for every two locations in 2022. Yelp then assigned each brand a loyalty score, consisting of the brands’ 2022 review rating, along with the percentage of business page views by returning customers.
The rapidly scaling Bradenton, Florida-based cafe is known for its scratch, made-to-order breakfast and brunch food, and ranked as the No. 4 favorite on Yelp’s list.
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The steakhouse chain doubled its revenue in five years, and recently surpassed $4 billion in revenue for the first time with nearly 700 stores. Jerry Morgan, CEO of Yelp’s No. 6 favorite brand, believes the brand will continue on that growth path.
The Cheesecake Factory
Ranking at No. 7 on Yelp’s most-loved brands list, The Cheesecake Factory recently celebrated its 45th anniversary, plus exceeded $3 billion in annual sales during 2022 with menu innovation, hospitality, and operational excellence driving its strong top-line performance, according to CEO David Overton.
Under the umbrella of Tampa, Florida-based Bloomin’ Brands, Bonefish Grill is Yelp’s No. 8 most-loved brand and features seafood like Bang Bang Shrimp, Ahi Tuna Poje, and wood-fired grill Chilean Sea Bass. The American casual dining chain has nearly 200 locations nationwide.
In an upset, LongHorn Steakhouse ranked above its big sister Olive Garden, also owned by publicly-traded Darden Restaurants. LongHorn placed at No. 12 on Yelp’s list.
Owned by Darden Restaurants, Olive Garden is known for its hot garlic breadsticks, pastas, soups, and salads. The casual Italian eatery has more than 850 restaurants and employs more than 96,000 team members worldwide, and ranked No. 15.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Yelp’s No. 17 most-loved brand features Italian-American cuisine like chicken parmesan, pork saltimbocca, and eggplant parmesan. Owned by Bloomin’ Brands, Carrabba’s has more than 200 locations nationwide.
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P.F. Chang’s is one of several casual-dining chains trying out to-go-only models, though P.F. Chang’s is still seeing pent-up demand in the full-service sector. Founded in 1993, the Asian and Chinese food restaurant placed No. 24 on Yelp’s list.
The casual dining chain recently announced it was eliminating 10 percent of its current menu offerings when it rolls out its new menu this summer, all in an effort to boost margins. The No. 27 favorite is also experimenting with store remodels, pricing, and more. BJ’s remodel initiative is centered around upgrading the bar area and expanding seating capacity, and the company plans to expand the initiative to 30 restaurants, or approximately 15 percent of its restaurant base, in 2023.
Dave & Buster’s
The eatertainment brand placed as the 34th favorite on Yelp’s list and offers a sports-bar atmosphere with American food and arcade games. Dave & Buster’s has more than 150 locations.
Ranked No. 37 overall on Yelp’s overall list, this Bloomin’ Brands favorite blossomed during the pandemic, with its decision not to furlough workers accelerating its recovery. From launching catering for the first time to unveiling a new prototype with a more efficient layout, Outback is poised to remain an all-star.
Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
With nearly 300 company-owned and franchised locations in 32 states, plus two Canadian provinces, Perkins is a staple in the classic American breakfast category and ranked No. 39 on Yelp’s list.
Coming in at No. 42, Red Lobster recently launched a lineup of retail seafood products for the first time in February and has more than 600 locations.
Privately-held and headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Golden Corral touts itself as the nation’s largest grill-buffet restaurant chain. Founded in 1973, the comfort food brand has grown to nearly 400 locations in the U.S. and ranked No. 44 of Yelp’s 50 Most-Loved Brands list.
Most-Loved Food Items
In a ranking of what food items people were ordering most frequently, Red Lobster’s Half Dozen Cheddar Bay Biscuits placed No. 6 and was included in 17 percent of orders.
No. 8 was Fettuccine Carrabba at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and No. 9 was Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill.