These "restaurant brands of the year" took the No. 1 spot in their respective categories, which included casual dining, pizza and Italian.
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
Coffee and quick service: Dunkin’ Donuts
Fast-casual Mexican: Moe’s Southwest Grill
Italian: Olive Garden
Pizza: Pizza Hut