Consumers name Subway, Chick-fil-A among year’s top restaurant brands

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Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, Olive GardenSubway and In-N-Out Burger are among this year's top restaurant brands, according to a new consumer study by The Harris Poll. 

These "restaurant brands of the year" took the No. 1 spot in their respective categories, which included casual dining, pizza and Italian. 

Moe’s Southwest Grill replaced Chipotle as the leader of the fast-casual Mexican category—an honor Chipotle had held for three consective years, the researcher said.

Several of this year's leading brands were ones that responded well to consumer preferences, noted Lisa Recoussine—vice president of client solutions at Nielsen, owner of The Harris Poll—in a statement.

“When we look at the quick-service restaurant category as a whole, healthy and fresh food is a clear trend,” Recoussine said. “Moe’s Southwest Grill and Subway are examples of restaurants that have listened to their customers and responded to their needs. While not fast food, Olive Garden is another good example of making healthy and fresh options a priority.”

Brand loyalty played a large part with others, she said, noting the "die-hard" fans of Chick-fil-A, Dunkin' Donuts and In-N-Out. 

As part of The Harris Poll's 2016 EquiTrend study, more than 97,000 consumers gauged over 60 restaurant brands. Brands were ranked based on their familiarity, quality and price consideration.

Restaurant brands of the year, by category:

Burger: In-N-Out Burger

Casual dining:IHOP

Chicken: Chick-fil-A

Coffee and quick service: Dunkin’ Donuts

Fast-casual Mexican: Moe’s Southwest Grill

Italian: Olive Garden

Pizza: Pizza Hut

Sandwich: Subway


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