Yelp Analysis Shows Strong Consumer Preference for Independent Restaurants

Yelp Analysis Shows Strong Consumer Preference for Independent Restaurants

Tuesday, Yelp released the second edition of their Local Economic Outlook, ranking U.S. metro areas by the pace of growth in their local-business population. Using their deep data stores, Yelp analyzed review ratings for chain and independent restaurants in the 50 metro areas included in the outlook.

The research indicates a shift in consumer perceptions of restaurants. Citing the “celebrity-chef” movement, the data shows a tremendous rise in in independent restaurants over the last 5 years.

Comparatively, fast food restaurants have seen a notable decrease in average ratings, about 16% between 2012 and 2017.

While chain restaurants across the country encounter increasingly choosy diners, independent fast-food and fast-casual restaurants have seen a continued increase in average ratings, improving by 7 percent in the last five years. Ratings for casual-dining chain restaurants held up better, unchanged on average, though they lagged behind their independent competitors, which gained a quarter of a rating point between 2012 and 2017.

“Historically, chain growth has outpaced the broader restaurant industry growth, but in the past three years we’ve actually seen independents and smaller operators outperform chains,” said Dave Henkes, Senior Principal at food industry research firm, Technomic. “It’s clear that consumers are voting with their dollars and are rewarding those restaurants that provide a resonating point of difference in the overall experience.”

It’s important to note that while many people might associate the phrases “fast food” and “fast casual” with chain restaurants, many restaurants that provide that type of experience are independent. The data shows that the type of restaurant (fast food, fast-casual, or casual) is much less important than their appearance as either a chain or independant restaurant.

Visit “Yelp” to see how the 50 major U.S. metro areas compare in local-business success throughout 2017 including which business categories are growing fastest, how restaurants compare and how diners in the metro rate chains and independent restaurants.

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"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

Which restaurant reigns supreme? Find out in "Top Dish," a multi-part mini-series where the top three Canadian restaurants go head-to-head for the title of best dish. Restaurants and their chefs, one in Montreal, one in Vancouver, and one in Toronto, will fire up their pans and show off why their talent, style, and concept make them No. 1.

How It's Scored

The scoring system for "Top Dish" begins by determining the top restaurant in each city through our proprietary Foodable Labs data, but to shake things up, we've enlisted the top local food influencers to put their taste buds to the test as critics. Each critic's responsibility is to taste the chef's featured dish (sign us up!) and give a serving of the truth — what is their honest, on-camera critique? (Not in front of the chefs, of course. Unless they're watching this now...)

Our critics are asked to privately rate different elements of the dish and experience to determine an overall score. The overall scores for each restaurant are revealed at the end of "Top Dish." But what goes behind each of the scores? Three things: the critic's scorecard (which includes selection, tableware, plating, ingredients, and more on a scale of 1 to 10), food sentiment score, and service sentiment score, the latter two tracked by Foodable Labs. In total, the highest score a restaurant can earn is 270 points.

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