Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans among consumers’ favored restaurants

Market Force survey also singles out Texas Roadhouse as diners’ top steakhouse chain

Cracker Barrel is America’s favorite casual dining chain, and Bob Evans restaurants serve the best breakfast, according to a national consumer survey by the Colorado-based research firm Market Force Information.

Cracker Barrel edged out last year’s winner, Cheesecake Factory in the survey of more than 6,700 consumers conducted in November 2015. Red Robin, TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesday rounded out the top five. This is the first time that Cracker Barrel captured the top spot, Market Force officials said.

Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent casual dining restaurant experience, as well as their likelihood to refer that restaurant brand to others. The research firm’s officials noted that Tennessee-based Cracker Barrel recently added a more health-conscious “Wholesome Fixin’s” menu. The chain also was ranked highest among full-service chains in value and service in a separate consumer survey released last month by industry research firm Technomic.

>>>> Earlier coverage: Top restaurant chains of 2016, as rated by consumers.

There are five Cracker Barrel restaurants in the greater Dayton area: in Butler Twp. in Miller Lane; on Wilmington Pike in Sugarcreek Twp.; in Middletown; in Springfield; and in Piqua.

Bob Evans ranked No. 1 in the breakfast-chain category, overtaking Mimi’s Café, which led in the 2014 casual dining restaurant study. Mimi’s ranked second, followed by Waffle House, Perkins, IHOP and Denny’s.

Bob Evans, which operates about two dozen restaurants in the region, was a food favorite, taking the top spots for quality food and healthy choices, according to a Market Force release. Mimi’s Café was ranked highest for its inviting atmosphere and friendly service. Waffle House dominated in the fast service and value categories — both key facets in the breakfast segment — yet scored lowest among the group for atmosphere and healthy menu options.

The designation of “best steakhouse” went to Texas Roadhouse, which narrowly beat out Longhorn Steakhouse. Outback Steakhouse, Logan’s Roadhouse and Sizzler followed. The winning chain operates locations in Fairborn, Huber Heights, Springfield and Hamilton.

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