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Cheesecake Factory: America’s Favorite Casual-Dining Restaurant

In a recent national consumer survey conducted by customer intelligence management solutions firm Market Force Information, results showed that Cheesecake Factory is the country’s favorite when it comes to casual dining. It also landed the number one spot in last year’s survey.

The study, conducted last August, had a total of 4,500 respondents who answered to questions about their preferred restaurants and the attributes which they deem as most important in looking for restaurants to dine. The favorites were first calculated based on the pure number of votes. To effectively determine which chains garnered the most votes, the number of locations for each participating chain was factored in the computation.

When the respondents were presented with a list of the top 51 casual-dining restaurants, Olive Garden garnered the most number of raw votes (the same position they had in 2010) then trailed by Applebee’s, which tied with Olive Garden last year. Red Lobster came in third, followed by Chili’s and Outback Steakhouse.

Considering that consumers cannot possibly vote for a restaurant that is not in their area, Market Force had to index the results to factor in the number of store locations per chain. When the results were weighted, Cheesecake Factory topped the list with a 7.3% vote share, a far lead from the 3.2% share that second-placer Texas Roadhouse got. This was followed by Olive Garden with a 2.8% score, P.F. Chang’s and Carraba’s Italian Grill.

The other restaurants who still made it to the Top 16 List include (mentioned according to their ranking) Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, Red Robin, Longhorn Steakhouse, Golden Corral, Applebee’s, Chili’s, TGI Friday, Ruby Tuesday, IHOP and Denny’s.

Market Force also surveyed the attributes that consumers consider in choosing their favorite restaurant, and asked them to rate the dining places based on categories such as taste, food quality, cleanliness, value and the speed of service that the restaurants’ servers in their superior aprons provide. The aspects with the highest variance turned out to be speed of service and value. Cheesecake Factory did not top in any of the attributes, but consistently fared well in all of those that were listed, specifically on taste and food quality. Golden Corral was voted as the best in value and speed of service, which was pretty logical, since it has self-service buffet as its restaurant offering.

The customers were also asked to rate the dining places according to noteworthy attributes like healthy choices, atmosphere, green/sustainable practices and the way their restaurant staff, in their smart aprons, accommodate children. Ruby Tuesday had the healthiest menu options, Carabba’s was the one with the best atmosphere, IHOP led in applying sustainable/green practices, and Golden Corral turned to be the one that has friendliest to children. On the flip side, Red Robin got the bottom rank for both healthy options and atmosphere, while P.F. Chang’s is the lowest in being kid-friendly.

The participants are aged 18 to 70 and came from varied income levels, 62% of which has more than $50,000 annual income. 76 percent were women who are considered to be primary consumer purchasers. 50 percent of the respondents claimed to have children at home.