Choosing a Favorite Restaurant: Name Brand vs. Local Restaurants

By Rhonda Campbell

We dine at restaurants for all types of reasons — to celebrate a colleague’s promotion, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and holidays. Of course, we also visit and eat at restaurants just to hang out with relatives and friends or to enjoy a rare and delicious meal.

Making Those Restaurant Choices

So many of us dine at restaurants the industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, on a typical day restaurants across the United States rake in about $1.7 billion according to the National Restaurant Association. And just how many restaurants are there? Try 970,000. More good news for restaurants is realized when you consider that the restaurant industry employs 12.9 million people, making it one of the largest employers in the private sector.

Obviously, when it comes to choosing which restaurant to eat at we have a bounty of options. For example, we can hop in our car and drive to a local restaurant, a place where the cooks and servers know us by name, or we can search the Internet for locations and business hours of a name brand eatery. Sometimes we make these dining choices in a matter of seconds. Other times it can take us hours or days to decide where we’re going to eat, especially if we’re going to a restaurant with a large group of people to celebrate a special event.

Restaurants Offering More than Food

So how do we decide which restaurant to go to? Whether it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon or the end of a busy workday, what factors do we consider when choosing a favorite name brand restaurant like, let’s say – Red Lobster, the Macaroni Grill or Texas Roadhouse over local restaurants?


We might have a few clues into what we look for in a restaurant. For instance, the National Restaurant Association surveyed diners and found that “66 percent of adults say their favorite restaurant foods provide flavor and taste sensations which cannot easily be duplicated in their home kitchen.”

Although we might want our experience at a restaurant to feel like we’re at home, we want the food to be surprisingly delicious, to convince us that we couldn’t prepare the same dishes at home ourselves unless we worked on the dishes for several hours, perhaps days, letting meats marinate and vegetables sauté until they’re so tender and filled with sauces and seasonings they literally fall apart and ooze with flavor in our mouths.

Sharing Delicious Meals with Other Restaurant Diners

We also eat at certain name brand or local restaurants because of the atmosphere. If we regularly chat, reminisce and laugh with other diners who frequent the same restaurants we do, that can be another reason we make the types of dining choices we do. After all, if we eat at a favorite name brand restaurant often enough the servers may come to recognize and know us by face and name the same as they do at local restaurants. They may also look forward to our visits, especially if we’re one of those folks who don’t mind sharing a good joke every now and then.

Fact is choosing to go to a favorite name brand or local restaurant is a two way street. Restaurants, with their customized décor, lighting, entertainment and, of course, mouth watering food dishes, try to attract certain types of clientele as their pricing often shows. But perhaps it’s the people we dine with, the people surrounding us at restaurants, that factor into our choice as much as the food menu.

Yep. I’m convinced that we go out to eat at restaurants as much to hang out with each other and to have lots of fun, as we do to enjoy a good meal of freshly prepared appetizers, entrees and, dare I say – desserts. And if you own a restaurant or know somebody who does, you might want to spread the word that lots of us are interested in visiting restaurants. In fact, restaurants are a top subject searched for in local categories according to Media Post. Some restaurants even have apps you can use so you can easily connect with them using your mobile devices. You can also look for deals, specials and restaurant coupons online before you head out to enjoy a delicious meal, saving you money while you enjoy the company of colleagues, business partners, family and/or friends.

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Sources:

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/179288/restaurants-and-babies-top-local-search-and-growth.html?edition=49490 (Media Post: Restaurants and Babies Top Local Search and Growth Categories)

http://www.restaurant.org/research/state (National Restaurant Association)

http://www.restaurant.com (Restaurant.com)

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