Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Diners say Olive Garden, Papa John’s are tops


papajohnsPapa John’s and Olive Garden got top marks in their respective restaurant categories in the University of Michigan’s 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index, while McDonald’s and Chili’s Grill & Bar were laggards.

Papa John’s took the lead in the limited-service category from Domino’s Pizza. Notably, this year’s win for Papa John’s came as Domino’s was getting a sales bump from its reformulated pizza recipe and crowing about how its new pies were beating rivals in taste tests. 

Papa John’s earned an ACSI score of 80 (out of 100), up from 75  last year. Little Caesar, Pizza Hut and Starbucks each made gains versus 2009 and were close behind with scores of 78. Domino’s score of 77 was flat from a year ago. 

McDonald’s, which has outperformed most other quick-service restaurants, was the only major fast-food company to post a decline. Its score fell to 67 from 70 last year. 

Check Out Line: Tasty outlook from Brinker


logo_chilis1Check out the tasty outlook coming from restaurant chain Brinker.

The parent of Chili’s Grill & Bar, On the Border and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants raised its full-year earnings outlook while also boosting its quarterly dividend payout by 27 percent.

Brinker now expects a 2010 profit of $1.40 to $1.44 a share excluding one-time items. It had previously forecast a range of $1.15 to $1.30. Analysts were expecting $1.39, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Best deals for restaurant meals


olivegarden1When it comes to getting the most bang for a buck at sit-down restaurants, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral, Applebee’s and Chili’s get top marks, according to 5,000 diners recently polled online by BrandIndex.

Brands with the worst perceived value were Ground Round, Benihana, Bahama Breeze, Landry’s Seafood House and Hooter’s.