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Fourth Unveils First Annual “Truth about Dining Out” Survey Results, Revealing Americans’ Eating-out Habits, the Rise of Third-Party Delivery Apps and Favorite Celebrity Chef



Reading Time: 5 minutes

Survey reveals new findings around the attitudes and expectations of
today’s restaurant patrons, enabling restaurant operators to boost
customer loyalty and develop winning strategies

the provider of the industry’s leading hospitality operations platform,
today revealed the findings of its first annual “Truth about Dining Out”
survey. With the goal of providing restaurant operators an inside look
at how Americans prefer to eat out, the survey, conducted by OnePoll and
commissioned by Fourth, shows that quality of service is oftentimes more
important than the actual meal among respondents who dine out. The
survey results reinforce that engaged staff are happier, provide better
service, create loyal customers and increase sales.

Americans Love Eating Out

With a strong U.S. economy, consumers continue to spend money eating out
rather than cooking meals at home. In fact, the survey results showed
that more than half (56 percent) of respondents who eat out – which
includes eating in restaurants, ordering food to-go and delivery – eat
out at least 2-3 times per week. Additionally, 10 percent of Americans
said they eat out 4-6 times per week, and 6 percent of consumers cited
they eat out every day.

  • When broken down to gender, the survey found that men typically spend
    more per week eating out ($82) while women spend $69. In fact, 10
    percent of men eat out every day compared to only 2 percent of women.
  • Respondents who earn between $40,001 – $50,000 per year spend the most
    money eating out, averaging $117.82 per week or between 12.25 percent
    to 15.31 percent of their yearly income.

The survey also examined, through multiple-answer questions, why
consumers eat out at a restaurant. Forty-seven percent of respondents
selected “social, spending time with family and friends” as the main
reason, followed by “special occasion” (41 percent), “it’s convenient”
(40 percent) and “I enjoy the atmosphere” (33 percent).

Gordon Ramsay – America’s Favorite Celebrity Chef

With the ongoing popularity in celebrity cooking shows and competitions,
the survey asked respondents to select their favorite celebrity chef.
According to the results, Gordon Ramsay took the number one spot with 11
percent of the votes, followed by Anthony Bourdain (7 percent) and Bobby
Flay (6 percent).

  • Gordon Ramsay was the favorite celebrity chef among respondents
    between the ages of 18-54. Surprisingly, Emeril Lagasse was the top
    pick for respondents who are 55 and older.
  • When broken down to region, respondents in the West selected Anthony
    Bourdain (13 percent) as their favorite celebrity chef with 13 percent
    of respondents citing “known celebrity chef” as an important factor
    when selecting a restaurant.

Customer Loyalty Begins with a Smile

As restaurants compete for customers, providing superior service is no
longer an added bonus, but expected. More than half of survey
respondents (53 percent) cited “good service” as the second most
important factor when selecting a restaurant following “food quality”
(62 percent), which received the most votes.

  • When determining a server’s tip, 58 percent of respondents cited
    “friendly and pleasant demeanor” as the most important factor followed
    by “attentiveness” (50 percent) and “accuracy of order” (44 percent).
  • Nearly a third of respondents (30 percent) cited “rude restaurant
    service” as their biggest frustration when eating out at a restaurant.
  • When asked to pick one thing that you would generally change in
    restaurants, the majority of open-ended responses included complaints
    around bad service.
  • When discovering new restaurants, 59 percent of respondents rely on
    “friend recommendations,” followed by “social media” (46 percent),
    reinforcing that great customer service and maintaining a good online
    reputation is key to driving sales.

Third-Party Delivery Services are on the Rise

To accommodate consumer demand, restaurant operators are turning to
third-party delivery services to manage the ordering, payment and
delivery of meals. But with so many options available, it can be hard
for a restaurant operator to keep up. Understanding this pain point, the
survey asked respondents to select which delivery services they used
most often. According to the results:

  • Among third-party delivery services, Uber Eats was selected as the
    most popular (31 percent), followed by DoorDash (27 percent) and
    GrubHub (24 percent).
  • When asked what your main reasons for using third-party delivery
    services are, 50 percent of respondents cited “convenience,” followed
    by “ease of payment” (42 percent) and “good customer service” (40
  • A quarter of respondents (25 percent), cited that they use third-party
    delivery services because they’d rather place their order online or
    via an app than talk to someone on the phone.
  • Surprisingly, the restaurant’s in-house delivery service was the
    second most used delivery service (29 percent) among general
    respondents and the number one delivery service used by respondents in
    the Southeast (28 percent) and Midwest (35 percent), proving that
    in-house delivery is still popular.

Room for Improvement

Although Americans enjoy eating out, there are a number of factors that
can contribute to a negative experience. To enable restaurant operators
to better understand the expectations of today’s restaurant patrons, the
survey asked respondents to disclose their biggest frustrations when
eating out at a restaurant and having food delivered. The survey results

  • When eating out at a restaurant, the top five frustrations for survey
    respondents include “the time it takes to receive their order” (35
    percent), “the price of the meal and getting an order wrong” (34
    percent), “not being satisfied with the quality/taste of food” (31
    percent), “rude restaurant service” (30 percent) and “restaurant
    cleanliness” (25 percent).
  • When having food delivered, the top three frustrations were “the time
    it takes for the food to be delivered” (20 percent), followed by “the
    condition of the food” (18 percent) and “missing items from my order”
    (14 percent).

“Having been in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years, it’s
interesting to see how quickly customer expectation can be changed,”
said Simon Bocca, chief operating officer at Fourth. “It’s clear from
the survey results that customer service and a tight back-of-house
operating system are key to optimizing profits. We’re excited for the
future of the industry and to continue to help restaurant operators
enhance guest satisfaction and scale profitably by ensuring they have
the right amount of labor and inventory on hand to deliver a great guest
experience – every time.”

To discover more findings from the first annual “Truth about Dining Out”

Survey Methodology:

Sponsored by Fourth, the “Truth about Dining Out” survey was conducted
by OnePoll, a marketing research company specializing in online
quantitative research and polling, between April 16-17, 2019. Feedback
was obtained from 1,000 U.S. adults who have eaten out in a restaurant
or ordered food to-go.

About Fourth:

Fourth provides complete, end-to-end restaurant and hospitality
management solutions that empower operators to optimize profits, enhance
guest satisfaction, improve employee engagement and scale profitably.
Developed by hospitality professionals for hospitality professionals,
Fourth offers an intuitive, all-in-one hospitality operations technology
platform for purchase-to-pay & inventory and workforce management –
underpinned by advanced demand forecasting, predictive analytics and
collaboration tools – as well as full-service payroll, benefits and HRO
services. Founded in 1999, Fourth serves more than 1,200 customers in 60
countries, including many notable hospitality brands in the U.S.
including Food First’s Brio & Bravo brands, Shari’s, Bolay, Pinstripes,
Bar Louie, TGI Fridays, Mandarin Oriental, Loews Hotels, Soho House and
Le Pain Quotidien. To learn more, visit
or follow on Twitter @fourthnews.



Amanda Corey
Gabriel Marketing Group
[email protected]

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