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Five Guys, In-N-Out beat out McDonald's, Burger King in poll

September 1, 2011 | 11:28 am

FiveguysMcDonald’s and Burger King have tens of thousands of U.S. locations, but when it comes to consumers’ favorite quick-service restaurants, smaller companies like Five Guys, Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out leave their giant competitors cooked.

The chains are known for their friendly service, which consumer research firm Market Force Information suggests may be more important to customers than the taste of their food.

Five Guys, Panera and Chipotle customers said they’d recently had a satisfactory meal worthy of a recommendation, pushing the restaurants to the top of a “Delight Index” from Market Force.
McDonald’s and Burger King barely rounded out the top 15. 

When 4,500 customers were asked to select their top choice among 55 eateries, Chick-fil-A scored 10.4% of the votes, followed by Panera with 9.9% and Five Guys with 9.1%. The golden arches were next with 7.5%. In-N-Out lagged with 2.4%.

But since some chains are much larger than others -- Chick-fil-A and Panera each have more than double the reach of Five Guys and In-N-Out -- researchers also ranked the companies after factoring the number of branches.

The burger joints Five Guys and In-N-Out won out with the most votes per restaurant.

The results are close to the conclusions reached by Consumer Reports in a similar study last month.

McDonald’s landed the lowest score for the quality, taste and nutritional value of its food, but won points for its speed of service and its ability to accommodate children. Taco Bell tanked in the cleanliness category and also bottomed out in friendliness and atmosphere but topped the rankings for overall value.

Panera’s ambiance was voted the best, while Subway was deemed to have the healthiest menu options. Chipotle blew away its competitors for its eco-friendly practices.

The burrito chain recently released an animated video touting organic farming, with country performer Willie Nelson singing in the background. View it below:

 

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A cheeseburger at a Five Guys restaurant in Dublin, Calif. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg

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