Though the restaurant industry has suffered some great setbacks in the past year, there is some good news for the industry coming from data insights uncovered by Black Box Intelligence, as guests indicated they were increasingly satisfied with their restaurant experiences, especially when it comes to comfort food. Guests have rallied behind restaurants despite the industry’s challenges.
For limited-service restaurants, the menu item most mentioned in positive food experiences was pizza. Second most-mentioned were burgers, followed by chicken. This coincides with sales: Those three foods have outperformed throughout the pandemic, according to Black Box reporting. This comes as no surprise, as diners stick to tried and true choices in times of uncertainty.
For full-service restaurants, the menu item that got the most positive guest mentions was steak. This is not driven by fine dining or even upscale casual. Steak was the most mentioned menu item in casual dining when describing a positive food experience. Other menu items most commonly mentioned with a positive sentiment were wings, followed by salad.
The percentage of restaurant food online mentions and reviews classified as positive grew by 7.0 percentage points compared to the same month in 2019. Service-related mentions became more positive by 6.0 percentage points year over year. The intent-to-return metric also became more positive, an encouraging sign showcasing restaurants’ efforts in driving guest satisfaction in the middle of the pandemic. Intent-to-return scores are almost at the levels they were immediately before the virus outbreak last March.