According to a new report from Mintel; cleanliness (96 percent), menu selection and variety (94 percent) and comfortable seating (91 percent) are the most important attributes for consumers planning to dine out.

"Because the vast majority of consumers find cleanliness, menu selections and comfortable seating most important, it is vital that restaurants address these areas first, before looking at the needs of specific demographics," said Julia Gallo-Torres, foodservice manager at Mintel. "Once these areas meet the standards of general consumers, operators can consider the specific demographics that make up their core customer base, as well as the groups in which they would like to target."

For example, 93 percent of those aged 65-plus say noise level is important to them when dining out versus 82 percent of all respondents. On the other hand, more than half (52 percent) of those aged 18-24 think the kind of music played in the dining room is important versus only 40 percent of all respondents.

Meanwhile, Hispanic diners are more likely to find decor (70 percent vs. 65 percent), dress code (54 percent vs. 44 percent), music (50 percent vs. 39 percent) and children's activities (40 percent vs. 24 percent) important compared to their non-Hispanic counterparts.

Aside from the ambiance of a restaurant, it is important to the majority of patrons (92 percent) to not feel rushed when dining at a sit-down restaurant. About 71 percent of restaurant-goers say coupons or special pricing attract them to certain restaurants and more than two-thirds (68 percent) say the food itself is more important than the atmosphere of the restaurant.

People are most likely to be deterred from returning to a restaurant if the table or setting is unclean (76 percent), if the server is rude (74 percent), or there is an unclean bathroom (57 percent). According to Julia Gallo-Torres,

"In the weak economy, competition is tough and these issues must be addressed by restaurants in order to ensure that the consumers they do attract will want to return," Gallo-Torres added.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Walter Sasiadek
    30064045
    I've been involved in the Restaurant Industry for over 40 years and as a Consultant/Trainer/Speaker since 1987. It's amazing how many restaurants are always trying to do something flashy, new wave or "cool" w/out getting the basics right. Part of my services include a Mystery Shopping component and owners are often shocked when they receive failing grades on cleanliness of the store and staff. Back to Basics is an old business refrain BUT is still very relevant in today's highly competitive marketplace.
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