Report: CAVA & Chicken Salad Chick Earn Rave Reviews

fast casual, CAVA, chicken salad chick

As inflation persists, it becomes more challenging for restaurants to lure customers. Nevertheless, new research shows a few chains are making strides when it comes to winning guests.

Merchant Centric, a data analytics and reputation management company, recently identified which restaurant chains are winning customers the most and found that Chicken Salad Chick, Tazikis, and CAVA are earning especially positive reviews these days.

“Guests are telling restaurant chains what is most important to them via their reviews – and not all brands are paying attention,” Adam Leff, Merchant Centric’s chief strategy officer, told The Food Institute. “Those that are listening and taking heed are getting high (customer-review) scores within their segments, growing sales and adding units.”

Merchant Centric used proprietary Theme Performance Scores – which represent the ratio of positive mentions in online reviews for a theme (such as price/value, or loyalty/referral) relative to the negative mentions of the same theme – to calculate customer sentiment. A TPS score of 1.0 indicates that praise and complaints are equal, while TPS scores of 1.1+ indicate more praise than complaints.

Here’s a look at chains that earned some of the highest TPS scores in the loyalty/referral category, per Merchant Centric:

  • Chicken Salad Chick: 4.4
  • Tazikis: 3.2
  • CAVA: 2.7
  • Skyline Chili: 2.4

Leff feels it’s imperative for restaurant chains to analyze customer reviews and leverage that feedback to improve their businesses.

“Many brands talk about their brand promise, but how do they quantify the efficacy of that brand promise?” Leff asked.

“[Chains] need to listen to what guests are saying in their reviews so they can measure and understand if they’re delivering on their brand promise and providing value over competitors. … These are insights that will drive success when identified.”

Chicken Salad Chick, which has grown to 286 locations since being founded in 2008, has earned praise predominantly for its customer service. The Alabama-based chain earned a 4.4 loyalty/referral score and a 1.8 in the price/value category.

Taziki’s, another Alabama-based fast-casual chain with 90 locations in 16 states, earned an exemplary score (2.0) in terms of price/value.

Among the fast-casual chains highlighted by Merchant Centric’s research, however, CAVA especially seems to be enjoying a moment of late. CAVA garnered positive reviews for its relatively healthy, Mediterranean-inspired menu featuring protein items ranging from chicken to falafel to meatballs, with a variety of greens, as well.

CAVA’s solid performance scores, Leff said, “tell us guests feel CAVA is so well-priced for what guests receive that guests are, in turn, expressing high degrees of loyalty and referral. They also have high TPS scores for selection/availability (6.2), food (5.1), and quality/flavor (3.9), thus indicating that guests are very happy with the quality, selection, and general food offerings provided by the brand.”

Editor’s note: FI senior content manager Chris Campbell contributed to this report.

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