When you eat out, you trust that the restaurant you choose is clean. But we've all heard horror stories of places that aren't. We want to eat at the cleanest restaurant, and that's why health department restaurant ratings tend to be a popular feature in newspapers.
Technomic, a consumer data company focused on the food industry, compiled a list of the cleanest restaurant chains in the country based on customer surveys and other data such as health inspections reports available to the public. Their sister company, the publication Restaurant Business, published the list with detail about the individual ratings.
The cleanest restaurant list includes some unexpected brands, and it doesn't include some of the nation's biggest fast food chains like McDonald's, Subway, and Taco Bell (though the top spot should be absolutely no surprise to the chain's fans). The list is divided into limited service chains (fast casual places including fast food restaurants) and full service restaurants that provide table service.
Limited Service Top 5
No surprise, right? The American chicken chain is tops in so many ways and their commitment to second-mile customer service means that cleanliness is embedded in the way each store works. 67 percent of customers gave the chain high overall scores, noting the especially clean interiors, clean bathrooms, and tidy kitchen and food prep areas.
Culver's is a Midwestern frozen custard and burger chain headquartered in Wisconsin. Customers were impressed with its dining area and bathroom cleanliness.
3. Firehouse Subs
The sandwich chain has more than 1000 locations across the country and customers are especially complimentary of the sandwich shops' interiors.
4. Newk's Eatery
With consistent ratings across all the categories, this regional chain with over 100 locations in 13 states comes up high on the list of clean restaurants.
5. Papa Murphy's Pizza
Papa Murphy's is a take and bake chain, which may be why they focus more on interior cleanliness, which were highly rated by 65.5 percent of customers, than on bathrooms, which were only well-rated by 44 percent of customers.
Full Service Top 5
1. Fleming's Prime
The national steakhouse chain garnered the best results of any chain in either category. Almost 71 percent of surveyed customers gave the restaurant high overall ratings; the interiors, bathrooms, and servingware all received top praise.
2. Seasons 52
The healthy and seasonally-focused national chain came in just under the top spot and actually got the best ratings for interior tidiness.
3. Brio Tuscan Grille
This Italian chain got top marks for clean dishes and servingware; diners also approved of interior cleanliness of the restaurants.
4. The Capital Grille
While interiors and bathrooms were highly ranked, scores for kitchen cleanliness were not as good, with the number of customers ranking the kitchens well falling below 60 percent.
5. Carrabba's Italian
Customers were pleased with the cleanliness of the Italian chain's interiors, though scores weren't as good for bathrooms and kitchens. Still it was enough for Carrabba's to take the fifth spot in the survey.