Every Chain Restaurant In America—Ranked By Popularity
Backtrack to yesterday's lunch: Did you choose to grab a salad at your favorite chain restaurant based on its convenience or due to the brand itself? Nation's Restaurant News recently partnered up with Datassential, a consumer research brand, to release its annual Consumer Picks survey, which shows us how 126 popular restaurants stack up against each other based solely on customer loyalty.
"Survey respondents were asked if their last visit to each chain was driven by convenience or by a true desire to experience that brand. The resulting True Loyalty score is the percentage of visits that were motivated by the brand and not by circumstance," NRN reports. Based on these percentages, we've ranked some of your favorite spots from worst to best based on brand-driven customer loyalty. Find out if your go-to burger joint cracked the top 50, and while you're at it, check out this essential Eat This, Not That! report: 50 Fast Food Rumors That Are Actually False.
RANKED FROM LEAST… TO MOST POPULAR
Only 28% were repeat customers because of the brand. Maybe no one's McLovin' it?
They got torpedoed, with only 31% coming back out of loyalty.
Jack In The Box
Boing! This chain rated a low 33% on the loyalty scale.
Donald Jr. would rate higher. This got a 33%.
Watch the throne: Burger King ranked a lowly 33%.
Buffalo Wild Wings
At just 33%, this chain's customers go there mostly for convenience. Wild.
Only 34% of its customers are loyal. Talk about a case of the Mondays.
We're not surprised by the 34% loyalty ranking. Sbarro is where you go if you're in a food court, not because you want good pizza.
Their slogan is "Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh." With just 34% of customers saying they return out of loyalty, maybe they're freaking people out.
Only 34% are loyal customers? Weird—the food's so good.
Hardee's has a hard time finding loyal customers, with just 34% calling themselves fans.
"America's Diner" is missing 66% of Americans, with just a 34% loyalty score.
Coming in under Subway, this sub shop got only 35%.
Auntie Anne's got her knickers in a twist: Only 35% are repeat customers because they're loyal.
Yes, the root beer chain sells food. The 35% loyal fans know what's up.
Steak 'N Shake
Of the 36%, we wonder if 18% go there for the steak, and 18% go there for the shake.
Boom goes the dynamite: Only 36% of survey respondents are loyal.
36%? Who knew Tuesday was more popular than Friday's.
On The Border
With 36%, this ranked lower than Taco Bell. Keep reading to see where that ranked.
The house always wins, except for its 36% ranking.
With friends like these….Of the 36% who say they're loyal, we bet it's for the ice cream.
California Pizza Kitchen
CPK ranked lower than even Little Caesars, with 36%.
Chili's Grill and Bar
You want your baby back, baby back, baby back ribs? So do 36% of respondents, who say they're loyal.
Checkmate. This chain scored a 36%. Not bad. Not great.
With 37%, more people are loyal to Waffle House than are loyal to IHOP. Who's house? Waffle House!
They got 37%, three percent more than Denny's.
Pizza, pizza. 37%, 37%.
BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse
Maybe the keg is kicked. Only 37% said they were loyal.
Applebee's Grill and Bar
It's your neighborhood bar and grill—which is probably the only reason you go there. Applebee's got 37%.
Ranking higher than Mcdonald's or Burger King, the onetime redheaded stepchild comes in with 38%!
Perkins and Denny's, watch your back: Shoney's nabbed 38%, more than you.
Checker's sister branch ranked higher, with 38% of customers loyal.
Huddle House houses Waffle House and IHOP, with 38%.
Say a little prayer: With a 38% loyalty ranking, this came in way under KFC.
Harold and Kumar are no doubt among the 39% who are loyal.
The lowest-rated Asian chain in America has the misfortune to come in with 39%.
39%? Maybe they should hire Wolverine to boost popularity.
39% keep coming back for the pizza buffet.
Chuck E. Cheese's
With 39% loving this chain, we're impressed, given a rat is their mascot.
A family favorite, 39% say Bob's their uncle.
Beef 'O' Brady's
Yes, there's a place called Beef 'O' Brady's. 39% probably come back because of the name alone.
The onetime home of 31 flavors has 39% of consumers returning out of love.
O'Charley's gets an O'40%.
The Colonel would flunk out of the Army with 40%, but on this list, it's a decent loyalty score.
You don't have to be a genius to see that 40% isn't great.
40%? Still lower than Taco Bell.
The 40% of loyal customers probably wandered in because of the smell.
It has a 41% loyalty score here; 100% in Austria.
Is this the bastard child of Taco Bell and Papa John's? Ask the 41% who say they love it.
Ooh, burn. 41% love this chain.
Long John Silver's
Ahoy, it got 41%, matey. Argh.
This jewel of a chain has a loyal following, with 41%.
Nobody knows Domino's like the 41% of respondents who like pizza at home.
Au Bon Pain
41% know why French women don't get fat; they eat here.
Of the 42% of fans, how many still watch Chuck?
Not quite a smash, with 42%.
The bird is the word, for 42% of fans.
Noodles & Company
Carbs rule: 42% of respondents love this place.
Romano's Macaroni Grill
Everybody loves Raymond, but only 42% like Romano's.
Joe's Crab Shack
Joe makes sure that 42% don't leave crabby.
Corner Bakery Cafe
Craving a pick-two combo that's not Panera? 42% do.
The chicken 'n biscuits joint keeps 42% coming back—Southern or not.
43% are under this 'wich shop's spell.
The 43% of this froyo spot's loyal respondents are probably immune to brain freeze.
This taco joint rings 43% of people's bells.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Is it safe to say that 43% of the returning sub cravers need these 22 Ways To Lose Belly Fat?
43% are obsessed with the endless buffet.
43% come back for the unlimited garlic breadsticks, duh.
El Pollo Loco
Only 43% of respondents go loco for this pollo.
Majority doesn't rule: only 43% love her.
Charleys Philly Steaks
A weak 43% proves that Charley is no Geno.
43%? Maybe this market should've stayed in Boston.
43%, including us, love that this grill chooses "Flavor and nutrition over fillers and fads."
We deemed Zaxby's the worst chicken chain in America, but 44% think otherwise.
You already know what 44% of devotees stop by for.
With an Sbux practically around every corner, 44% actually don't think Sbux is stalking them
Moe's Southwest Grill
You don't have to trek southwest to go to Moe's, and 44% are aware of that.
44% may be eating their cold cut sandwiches Home Alone.
Only 44% of respondents think Jamba's got the juice.
44% of people don't have reservations about booking another reservation at Bonefish.
What chunk of the 44% know that Arby's doesn't actually stand for roast beef?
Does the majority of the 45% dine in or take their sandwiches to go?
45% of customers must be having a hoot, but we think Dr. Seuss' animated elephant scores higher.
45% don't mind the schlep to Schlotzsky's.
Chipotle's step sister scored just four percent lower, at 45%.
45% wait out front on the reg—probably for the bloomin' onion.
When Don Vito Corleone said, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse," 45% thought he was talkin' about this pizza.
A quick way to boost this shop's 45%: enlist firemen to serve the subs.
Scoring an unimpressive 45%, we're thinking Dave's more of a C-list celebrity.
How do the devoted 45% feel about DD possibly changing its name?
The Cheesecake Factory
Maybe if they improve their menu's transparency, they'd notice a loyal fan base greater than the current 45%. Or not.
Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
We're suspicious that only 45% come back for the homemade queso.
We're surprised that only 45% choose to wake up and smell Caribou coffee.
Perhaps they should advertise their subs on blimps to bump up that low 45%.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
46% of people don't come here for the spinach.
46% admit to their love affair with Paul Fleming and Philip Chiang.
An impressive 46% do lunch well-done.
A high 46% are just as famished as Howie is.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
House-smoked meats and holiday-esque feasts? 46% say yes, please.
46% are lured in by the frozen custard and stay for the butterburgers.
Cold Stone Creamery
You may fret to gain a stone for frequenting this spot too often, but 46% don't really mind.
Carrabba's Italian Grill
Rejoice! 46% know how to roll their R's.
46% are bugging out about these bagels—and we can't blame them when pastrami's on the menu.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
This cafe is the closest thing to a vacation 47% of fans can get.
47% hit up the coastal grill for surf and turf on the reg.
Ten-hut! 47% of pizza lovers know the drill.
None of Olive Garden's Classic Recipes have olives in them, but that doesn't deter the staggering 47% of loyal fans.
Given Jersey Mike's scored 47%, it must be a sub-stantial sub above the rest.
Jason's Deli has a die-hard fan base of 47%.
Out of the loyal 47%, we're wondering if anyone has actually ordered their hot dogs.
48% don't have issues with this daddy.
Rita's Italian Ice
Who'd return to Rita's for a second cup of peanut butter and jelly ices? A whopping 48%.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Despite the ongoing outbreaks, 49% keep coming back for more burrito bowls.
Round Table Pizza
The Knights of Round Table must've dined here. Along with the 49%, of course.
We're hoping that 50% of Krispy Kreme's frequenters save some calories and choose the Sugar Doughnut.
Half of our favorite chicken joint's customers stop by repeatedly—but not on Sundays.
50% of respondents know what the heck Whataburger is.
An impressive 50% of takeout lovers choose Pei Wei time after time.
51% of this seafood spot's frequenters want to see the food and eat it.
An understandable 52% of the bakery-cafe's devotees return for its healthy lunch options.
52% of fans fell in love with the Cracker Barrel's country vibes and homestyle cooking.
We're not surprised that The Fastest Growing Chicken Chain in the nation scored an above-average 53%.
No roadkill at this roadhouse. 54% keep coming back.
54% of the lobster joint's fans keep coming back for the Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
An impressive 60% of the survey respondents prefer to take 'n bake their pies at home.
With 62%, this chain has the most loyal fans—including celebrities like Donald Glover, Paris Hilton, and David Chang. "In-N-Out burgers were extraordinary," said celeb chef Gordon Ramsay. "I sat in the restaurant, had my double cheeseburger then minutes later I drove back round and got the same thing again to take away."