Maggiano’s is the nation’s favorite casual-dining restaurant chain, according to a recent study by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. Specializing in family-style Italian cuisine, the restaurant chain just edged out Pappadeaux, which ranked second, followed by Cheesecake Factory, Bonefish Grill, and P.F. Chang’s.
The study of more than 7,000 consumers was designed to uncover which casual-dining chains they like most--both overall and by specific food category--as well as why they prefer one to another. Market Force first calculated the favorites based on total votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a weighted view of the results. Of the 114 chains studied, Olive Garden initially amassed the highest number of votes, which can be attributed to the fact that it has hundreds of restaurants across the country. However, when viewed as a calculation of votes per location, Maggiano’s ranked first.
“This is the first year we included Maggiano’s in the study, and it shot straight to the top, even surpassing Cheesecake Factory, which claimed the title the past two years,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “Once considered a restaurant for special occasions, Maggiano’s is now attracting a broader customer base of business professionals and families who are drawn to its indulgent, value-driven dining experience.”
Market Force also calculated the top chains according to various attributes including value, cleanliness, food quality, friendly service, healthiness of food and taste. P.F. Chang’s was a clear favorite across the board. The Asian-influenced restaurant had the largest margin in the taste category with 64 percent of the vote, while second-ranked Pappadeaux earned 59 percent.
Overall-favorite Maggiano’s performed consistently well in most categories, landing in the top three for service, food quality, and cleanliness. Pappadeaux was lauded for its food and service, and Bonefish ranked high for its healthy cuisine. Cheesecake Factory also earned a top-five spot in all of the categories, particularly excelling in cleanliness, value, and taste.
Market Force also asked consumers to rate casual-dining restaurants in seven different food categories--Italian, buffets, steakhouses, seafood, pizza, continental and breakfast. Again, the votes were indexed by location count to even the playing field.
Cheesecake Factory emerged as a favorite among continental-style chains, California Pizza Kitchen was the No. 1 pizza place, and the Original Pancake House was the top breakfast spot. Other chains, many of them new to Market Force’s survey this year, also led the rankings in subcategories, including Maggiano’s for Italian, Souper! Salad! for buffets, Bahama Breeze among seafood, and Capital Grille for Steakhouses.