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. 

Disappearing restaurant deals?


olivegardenWhether it is “value menus,”  Applebee’s two dinners for $20 deal or Ruth’s Chris Steak House’s “Summer Classic” three-course meal for $39.95, restaurant operators long have been depending on specials to woo customers during a long recession that has driven unemployment to a 26-year high.

Now, one high-profile restaurant executive says he has seen some rivals’ deep discounts disappear over the last few weeks.