The Harris Poll released The Harris Poll 2016 EquiTrend Study on June 9, its listing of the top restaurant brands for 2016. While some winners are customary favorites, there were a few surprises in this year's listing. Without further ado, let's dig into the winners and losers for 2016.
Subway was named the 2016 Sandwich Shop Brand of the Year, which should surprise no one. This is the sixth consecutive year that Subway secured the title. Only nine other brands in the study's history have been able to hold on to the top spot for six years. According to Lisa Recoussine, vice president of Client Solutions at Nielsen (owners of The Harris Poll):
"Year after year, Subway has proven that it has equity staying power ... Getting ahead of the fitness curve and being one of the first chains to use a celebrity fitness tie in with 'The Biggest Loser' are some factors contributing to Subway's equity dominance. In Moe's case, the restaurant's aggressive expansion and growth, combined with their focus on fresh, likely factored into their equity rise."
Other standouts included Olive Garden Italian Restaurants in the top slot of the Italian Dining Restaurant category, Pizza Hut taking first place for Pizza Chains, Chick-fil-A topping the Chicken Restaurant category and In-N-Out Burger reigning supreme for burger establishments. Dunkin' Donuts took the top slot for Coffee & Quick Service Restaurants.
However, perhaps the most interesting tidbit from the poll concerned fast casual Mexican restaurants. Chipotle's food safety faux pas last year was well-documented. After taking the top spot in 2015, Moe's Southwest Grill surged to take the first spot on the list despite having 650 restaurants compared to Chipotle's 1,900. Chipotle's fall wasn't limited there, however; Taco Bell, Qdoba and Baja Fresh all jumped up on the listing, pushing Chipotle to fifth.
Source: Harris Poll