Dining Dilemma: What Are America’s Favorite Restaurants?

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Fred Prouser / Reuters

Who says you can’t have your Cheesecake Factory and eat there, too?

According to an annual consumer restaurant chain survey conducted by Market Force Information released Oct. 3, Cheesecake Factory is the nation’s favorite casual dining restaurant.

More than 4,500 consumers across North America participated in the survey, which was conducted in August 2011. It examined which casual-dining restaurants consumers prefer and which attributes are the most important to them. Market Force first calculated the favorites based on pure number of votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain to effectively measure which chain garnered the most votes per restaurant.

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The raw data results indicated that Olive Garden received the majority of votes for the second year in a row. Since consumers are only likely to vote for restaurants they patronize and that are located in their area, Market Force indexed the results to account for the number of restaurant locations per chain. When the votes were weighted, Cheesecake Factory was the first choice among consumers by a wide margin, earning 7.3% of the vote share – more than double the 3.2% earned by the second-place finisher Texas Roadhouse. Olive Garden came in third in the study with 2.8%.

Other aspects of the survey include differentiation among the restaurants (IHOP, for one, received high marks for its green practices), and a cheerily-titled “customer delight index.”

The report did not mention the effect of often astronomical calorie counts on many of Cheesecake Factory branches’ menus. The chain recently rolled out a healthier supplemental menu, called SkinnyLicious.

Full survey results can be found here.

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