Nationally, diners spend an average of $36.40 per person at a restaurant. New York City and Boston spend above the national average, with $46.14 in NYC and $41.54 in Boston.
Philadelphians continue to be the highest tippers with an average 20.3% tip, up from 19.9% in 2015. Diners in Denver and Washington D.C. also show their server extra appreciation by tipping 19.5% and 19.2%, respectively, surpassing the national average tip of 18.1%. As restaurateurs experiment with eliminating tips in favor of higher menu prices, 43% nationally say they support it and hope it catches on, while 33% “hate it”. Diners in New Orleans are opposed to it the most (42%), followed by those in Miami and Charleston (40%).
For most of those surveyed, the days of dialing a restaurant to make a reservation are over. 57% report making restaurant reservations via internet and 25% make reservations with the touch of a finger on mobile dining apps. Diners in Washington D.C. seem to avoid calling at all costs as 77% say they make reservations online.
There’s no shame in browsing social media and double tapping restaurant and food pictures. Among diners who browse food photos on social media (53%), 75% say they have actually picked a place to eat based on shared food photos.
Dining out is not without its irritations. Nationally, diners reported noise is the most bothersome at 24%, followed by service (23%), crowds (15%), high prices (12%), and parking (10%). Restaurant furniture and style may also be annoying to diners. 70% of those surveyed say they are “over” backless chairs and stools.
As far as dining deal breakers, the survey revealed 36% of diners are turned off by a cash-only policy. Other deal breakers include sitting at communal tables (33%), an inflexible no-substitution policy (27%), and a strict reservation-only policy (19%).
Vacation is the perfect time to indulge in local cuisine. 56% of diners surveyed say they have or would eat multiple lunches or dinners during a trip to squeeze in all of the locale’s must-try dishes. Overwhelmingly, 70% of Honolulu residents have done this or would do it, followed by foodies in NOLA (65%) and Austin (64%). Some would even go the distance to travel for a good meal. 54% of diners said they would travel up to 30 minutes, 20% said a few hours, 13% would make a weekend drive, and 13% would go the farthest and jump on a plane or plan a vacation around a “must try” dish. Diners in Orlando are the most willing (31%) to travel a few hours, followed by Chicago and Nashville at 25%.
For some, a full phone battery is essential for keeping up-to-date on all food news. 56% of New York patrons have or would ask to charge their phone in a bar or restaurant, compared to the national average of 45%. Diners in Detroit and Seattle are less concerned with bothering staff about their phone batteries as 64% say they would not ask to charge their phones in a restaurant or bar.
Most diners aren’t willing to shell out some dough to get into a popular restaurant. 72% said they would not pay for a hard-to-get reservation, while there are some willing to do whatever it takes for the hottest seat in town. 20% of those surveyed said they would pay for a hard-to-get reservation and 8% said they have done it.
According to surveyors, honesty is typically the best policy. 81% of diners said they would never lie about it being a special occasion for a restaurant freebie, while a cool 10% have told a little white lie. Honolulu is the most daring as 28% of diners claimed they have or would lie about a special occasion to get something for free.
For more information on this year’s dining trends, and to find the best places to eat near you, visit Zagat.com.
Posted by: Tiffany Herklots, Zagat