Latest Survey of American Attitudes Toward Restaurants

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47 percent of American adults say they are going out to eat less often than they were six months ago.  While that finding shows little change from January, it’s down 10 points from November 2008.  Only 10 percent say they are dining out more often compared to six months ago.

An overwhelming 72 percent say they enjoy a good home-cooked meal more than one at a fine restaurant.  These findings show little change since October 2009.

The survey of 1,000 adults nationwide was conducted on July 21-22, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports.  Forty-seven percent of Americans say, in a typical week, they go out to a restaurant for dinner rarely or never, while 32 percent do so once a week. Eighteen percent dine out two or three times a week.  These findings show little change since 2008.

But while most Americans aren’t going out often for dinner, 87 percent say they’re at least somewhat satisfied with the service they get when they go to a restaurant. Just 9 percent are not satisfied.

When out at a restaurant, a plurality of adults (43%) consider 15% a standard tip for a waiter.  Twenty-five percent feel 10% is enough, while 22 percent say 20% is about right. Eight percent think less than 10% is normal. These findings, too, show little change for years now.

The survey confirms that Americans ages 18 to 29 are more likely to be eating out more frequently than their elders.

When polling  results are broken down by income, a majority of those making under $75,000 annually are dining out less often than they were six months ago, while half of wealthier Americans are eating out about the same number of times as before.

When it comes to frozen treats, Americans prefer to keep it simple.  Twenty-three percent of adults who eat ice cream at least occasionally say vanilla is the best, while the same number prefer chocolate.

American pizza-eaters rate Pizza Hut number one among pizza chains, closely followed by Papa John’s.  But nearly one-out-of-five adults say they rarely or never eat pizza no matter who makes it.

In a showdown among the top three fast-food hamburger chains, Americans prefer Wendy’s over McDonald’s and Burger King.

So what is a restaurant business worth in today’s economy?

In my business brokerage practice, we know that a full service restaurant with liquor license is worth approximately 35 percent of gross annual revenue.  Some very profitable fast food chains are valued at up to 50 percent of annual revenue.

Bars will average between 35 and 40 percent of annual revenue in appraised value.  Coffee houses will appraise for about 40 percent of revenue.

These valuation estimates assume, of course, that the business is earning the bottom line net profit of its peer group.  That’s a big assumption in this economy.

Those in the restaurant business can verify that it’s hard work.  The hours are long, and the work is never ending.

So let’s all take a pledge to support our local restaurateurs and bar owners.  They’re hard working local business owners who deserve our support.

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William Bruce is business broker, appraiser and Accredited Business Intermediary.  He is available nationally to advise on matters of restaurant valuation and transfer of ownership. He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association.
 
He may be reached at (251) 990-5910 or by email at WilliamBruce@bellsouth.net.

About William Bruce

President, American Business Brokers Association / Business Broker and Accredited Business Intermediary assisting business buyers and sellers with the transfer of ownership since 1986 / Author: How to Buy a Business.
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