20 fast food restaurants with the best customer satisfaction

Not surprisingly, companies with happier customers tend to have stronger sales than companies with less happy customers. The association has been studied for years, by the Harvard Business Review and elsewhere, and it’s certainly not unique to the restaurant industry.

But since Nation’s Restaurant News’ mission is to focus on the restaurant industry, we decided to take a deeper look at this correlative data to showcase a few brands that check all the customer satisfaction boxes, from timeliness and cleanliness to price/value and loyalty. In doing so, we created The Happy Customer Index, leveraging proprietary data from the customer feedback aggregator Merchant Centric that monitors and measures brand sentiment from millions of ratings, reviews, and comments across sites like Google, TripAdvisor, and more. Merchant Centric collects data on more than 1 million restaurant locations covering 1,400 brands across more than five locations.

To kick off our Happy Customer Index, we’re taking a deeper look at three key themes – food, price/value, and loyalty/referral – to identify the strongest emerging and emerging fast food brands in terms of guest satisfaction when it comes to these topics. Merchant Centric calls this metric the Brand Subject Performance Score. If the subject’s measured performance score is above one, this indicates that guests mention the brand more positively than negatively; For example, a score of 3.5 indicates that the guest mentioned the topic 3.5 times more positively than it did negatively. Conversely, a score of 0.5 indicates that the subject is stated positively, half of which is negative.

The Happy Customers Index will provide a quarterly look at the top performers across a variety of categories with top subject performance scores as measured by Merchant Centric’s AI technology. First: a quick overview.

The fast casual part

A quick look at Merchant Centric data from the fast casual sector shows some erosion in guest satisfaction scores from December 2021 through November 2022, but not necessarily erosion in sales. According to Adam Leaf, co-founder of Merchant Centric, this anomaly is in keeping with a broader anomaly environment, where operators have been hit with labor pressures, inflation, supply chain challenges, you name it — and as consumers prioritized value. It is worth noting that this sector reached its lowest level of satisfaction in September 2022 and has since started to recover.

However, at the brand level, there is still a strong correlation between well-performing sites and higher guest satisfaction and Related Attribute Performance Scores (TPS).

The best international brands

Established brands are defined as having more than 20 locations. Here are the top 10 most popular informal brands, according to Merchant Centric’s TPS ranking system:

  • Chick chicken salad, an Atlanta-based chicken salad concept that was founded in 2008 and now has over 225 restaurants. The brand scored 7.7 for food, 1.8 for price/value, and 4.4 for loyalty/referral. Chicken Salad Chick’s food scores received nearly eight times as many praises as complaints, and it likely resulted in high loyalty and referral scores.
  • Cheba HutAnd A roasted sub concept in Fort Collins, Colorado that was founded in 1998 and now includes nearly 50 locations. This brand scored a class-leading 8.2 on Food, 1.6 on Price/Value and 3.8 on Loyalty and Referral.
  • Clean Eatz, a health food franchise founded in North Carolina in 2011 and now has more than 85 locations in more than 20 states. The brand scored highly on food quality (6.3), price/value (1.4) and loyalty and referral (2.4).
  • Velvet TacoAnd A Dallas-based concept founded in 2011 that now includes 30 locations. The brand scored 6.4 for food, 0.7 for price/value, and 5.2 for loyalty/referral. Velvet Taco’s results show that more customers expressed negative comments than positive comments on price and value, but those customers continued to show loyalty and referral likely due to higher food ratings.
  • d’angelo’s grilled sandwiches, The Massachusetts-based sandwich concept was founded in 1968 and now has more than 80 locations in five states. D’Angelo follows a similar pattern to Velvet Taco, with high food and loyalty/referral scores, but an inverted 0.5 score on price/value.
  • Skyline Chile, a Cincinnati-based concept founded in 1949 that now has over 150 locations. The concept scored 5.4 on food, 1.6 on price/value, and 2.4 on loyalty and referral.
  • Maple Street Biscuit Companya The comfort food concept was founded in 2012 which has grown to around 50 units and has been Cracker Barrel acquired it in 2019. The brand scored 5.0 on food, 1.0 on price/value and 4.6 on loyalty/referral.
  • BiscuitvilleAnd With about 70 locations, is a made-from-scratch cookie concept that was founded in 1966 in North Carolina. This brand scored 6.8 on food, 3.1 on price/value and 3.0 on loyalty/referral.
  • Muscle Maker grillAnd A health-focused, Texas-based concept founded in 1995. The brand scored 2.5 in Food, 0.6 in Price/Value and 1.1 in Loyalty/Referral.
  • Greek pizzaAnd The pizza concept in Indiana dates back to 1969 which now has over 140 restaurants on its menu. The brand scored 4.7 on food, 2.1 on price/value, and 2.0 on loyalty/referral.

Notably, Clean Eatz is one of four fast-acting brands that increased customer satisfaction scores by double digits in 2022; Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company also experienced record growth last year.

Of the five lowest-scoring brands overall, food scores came in below a 2.8, with only one brand scoring positively on the price/value topic. They each also scored 1.5 or less in loyalty/referral. The average food score for recognized brand leaders is 4.9 versus 2.4 for brands with lower scores, or “chasers.” The average price/value score is 1.3 for leaders, versus 0.8 for chasers, while the average loyalty/referral score is 2.8 for leaders and 1.2 for chasers.

“Not surprisingly, food praise is the main differentiating factor between Leaders and all others, leading to similar loyalty and referral benefits…and often price/value as well,” said Leaf. “This data shows that guest loyalty is driven by great food and guests will identify this as greater value, even if it means paying more for an excellent dining experience.”

Best emerging brands

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top 25 emerging brands — those with fewer than 20 locations — score higher customer satisfaction scores than their established peers, as less scope tends to allow more focus on these essentials. “We’ve seen some impressive food results from these brands, which in many cases sends loyalty scores off the charts,” Leff said.

The top 10 emerging brands include, in no particular order, the following:

  • Yeats Cajun Creole: The concept bills itself as a “Local New Orleans Style Joint” but was founded in Indianapolis in 2001. It has since grown to 15 locations. This concept scored 13.9 on food, 6.3 on price/value, and 7.7 on loyalty/referral.
  • Gandolfo Delle: The New York-style deli first opened in Salt Lake City in 1989 and now has about 15 locations in six states. It scored 11.9 on food, 1.1 on price/value, and 3.5 on loyalty/referral.
  • Pelagrin: This eight-unit, Texas-based American bistro founded in 2008 prides itself on its certified green ingredients. It scored 6.4 on food, 2.0 on price/value and 6.1 on loyalty/referral.
  • Flat Post Company: Since 1998, the New Hampshire-based wood-fired pizza idea has grown to seven locations. This company scored 9.0 on food, 1.0 on price/value, and 3.4 on loyalty/referral.
  • solubility: The Melt in California focuses on grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and burgers and has recently outgrown just 20 locations, including food court locations. This company scored 4.9 on food, 1.3 on price/value, and 3.2 on loyalty/referral.
  • Mark’s Feed Store: This barbecue concept was founded in 1988 in Louisville, Kentucky, and now has six locations. This concept scored 4.2 on food, 2.2 on price/value and 2.4 on loyalty/referral.
  • Guella’s Spicy Chicken: This Louisville-based concept was founded in 2015 and has since grown to nearly 15 locations. He. She It scored 5.6 on food, 0.8 on price/value, and 2.6 on loyalty/referral.
  • Wild flower bread: An artisanal bakery and restaurant in Arizona, the concept was founded in 1996 and now has about 15 locations. It scored 5.3 on food, 1.8 on price/value and 4.1 on loyalty/referral.
  • The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill: This brand was founded in 2011 in Nevada and now has over 20 locations. He. She It scored 4.6 on food, 1.0 on price/value and 4.6 on loyalty/referral.
  • Taco Bus: This authentic Mexican concept has about 10 locations around the Tampa, Florida market and was established in 2011 originally as a food truck. It scored 4.9 on food, 3.0 on price/value, and 4.9 on loyalty/referral.

It is also worth noting, Kebab shop from Southern California were also positive across the board — 3.5 on food, 1.0 on price/value and 1.9 on loyalty/referral — while Grand Traverse Bay Company It scored 7.0 for food. The kebab shop, which was founded in 2007, now has more than 31 locations and has plans to expand into Florida this year. Grand Traverse Pie Company first opened in 1996 and now has 15 stores across Michigan and Indiana. Moreover, emerging brands with higher customer satisfaction scores increased compared to the previous year Gamboreto, Uncle Madeosand solubility.

The average food score for fast emerging brand leaders is 6.8, compared to 3.9 for chasers. Top price/value brands averaged a 1.4, while stalkers averaged a 1.0. In terms of loyalty and referral, top brands averaged 3.0 versus 2.3 for stalkers.

Want to dig deeper into the Happy Customer Index? Simply scroll here to access the quarterly index, as well as profiles of the top-performing brands. We’ll turn our attention For the family dining segment in the second quarter.

Disclaimer / Methodology

Special Note: All data and analyzes presented in this article are based on Merchant Centric results and are, like all datasets, inherently limited in scope and nature. The data provided here may not be comprehensive and may exclude certain brands or brand sites. The statements are provided without warranty as to their accuracy, completeness or currency, and Merchant Centric expressly disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance on the information or opinions contained herein. Selected brands are For illustrative purposes only, and data should not be relied upon as reflective of or attributable to all brands within a sector or kitchen. Please note that some of the brands listed here are Merchant Centric clients