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5 Restaurant Chains That Offer the Worst Bang For Your Buck, According to a New Study

Customers believe these chains are too expensive for what they provide.

The only thing better than getting a delicious, well-portioned takeout meal is getting it for a good price. But buying from any restaurant can be a balancing act between cost and quality. Customers may be forced to compromise on quality when they're eating out on a budget, while those who prioritize quality could face hefty price tags.

And when it comes to certain restaurant chains, customers feel like they're not getting the meal value they deserve for the prices they're paying, according to a new study by wealth-management and investment-banking firm Stifel. The study considered 13 fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains across different categories, from burger restaurants like Wendy's and McDonald's to Mexican-inspired brands like Taco Bell and Chipotle.

By looking at the cost of a popular meal from each of the 13 chains in 20 different cities, the study was able to find the average price customers are likely to pay at those restaurants currently. It also surveyed customers about which restaurants they believe have become too expensive for what they provide, assigning a rating based on their responses.

Read on to learn which five chains received the highest dissatisfaction ratings and offer the worst bang for your buck, according to customers.

6 Most Overpriced Sandwich Chains, According to Customers


chick fil a

Chick-fil-A was among the top five chains customers deemed to be "too expensive." And that's in spite of its relatively low average meal price of $8.74, as identified by the study. It seems that customers don't love overpaying for those tasty chicken sandwiches!

Panera Bread

Panera Bread exterior
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Though it markets itself as providing "great-tasting, clean food," some customers in the study seemed to be disappointed in how Panera's meals compare to its costs. The chain, known for its bakery items, soups, salads, and sandwiches, was another one that scored highly on the "too expensive" measure. And its easy to see why: at $14.76, Panera had the second-highest average meal price out of all the chains the study considered. The only chain more expensive than Panera was Five Guys, which had an average price of $16.33. (However, Five Guys wasn't included in the customer survey and therefore did not receive any rating.)

MOD Pizza

MOD pizza restaurant

For those who have never been to a MOD Pizza, just picture yourself at Chipotle, but swap out the burritos for pizza. The upside to this chain is that it offers highly-customizable pies and can have them ready extremely quickly for those who may otherwise be stuck waiting for delivery.

But the study indicated that customers don't quite feel they're getting their money's worth when they stop by MOD Pizza. The brand had the third highest "too expensive" rating of the group, despite being comparatively low in terms of its average meal cost of $12.68.

Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza exterior
Hendrickson Photography / Shutterstock

Blaze Pizza employs the same build-your-own-pizza business model as MOD, so it should be no surprise that both found themselves on the "not worth it" list. Blaze Pizza received the second-highest dissatisfaction rating on the bang-for-your-buck scale.

Blaze Pizza's higher dissatisfaction rating may be linked to the fact that it is one of the most expensive out of all the chains, with an average cost of $13.72 per meal.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack sign

Shake Shack's top spot on this list is somewhat contradictory to its pricing. Its average meal price of $13.50 was lower than prices at Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Blaze Pizza, yet it still managed to top them all in this study with a very high rating on the "too expensive" scale.

The Stifel report said that Shake Shack, Chick-fil-A, and MOD Pizza were among the brands that received a higher-than-expected proportion of the "too expensive" responses. On the flip side, brands that received lower-than-expected dissatisfaction ratings in comparison to their average prices included Chipotle, Jersey Mike's, and Panera Bread, the study said.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe