There's One Restaurant Nailing Both Delivery And Dine-In Service

Olive Garden is indisputably good at what it does.

Over the past few years, takeout and delivery have expanded beyond your typical pizza and Chinese joints. Thanks to both the rise in third-party delivery apps and the pandemic that made them a necessity, even full-service dine-in restaurants like Chili's and TGI Fridays found themselves hopping on the to-go train. But since those types of restaurants are newest to the game, which one of them does it best?

The food might technically be the same whether you eat it in the restaurant or in your bed, but the experience can differ drastically. After all, the ambiance is kind of the whole point of going to a restaurant, right? I'm paying $20 for a basic spaghetti pomodoro so I can eat it on a tiny table in a dimly lit cavern while surrounded by loud, indistinct chatter. Meanwhile, if I'm feeling too agoraphobic to leave my home and too aquaphobic to do dishes, I'll fork up the excess delivery fees to order sushi or curry. It's hard to say whether one experience is objectively better than the other—so someone crunched the numbers.

In its 2023 Off-Premises Report, Nation's Restaurant News has compiled data on several restaurant chains' customer satisfaction rates and compared the dine-in scores to the off-premises scores (the latter meaning carryout, delivery, and drive-thru). According to NRN, the off-premises scores were determined by evaluating "overall satisfaction, food quality, food visual appeal, speed of visit, order accuracy, quality of packaging, ability to pay using technology, and more."

Among the top winners in the off-premises category, their dine-in satisfaction rates were always lower. I guess people find more things to nitpick about the in-person experience, or maybe they just don't like having their conversations drowned out by employees yelling "Corner!" But one restaurant in particular left patrons almost equally satisfied whether they ate in the dining room or ordered to their door. Hint: When you're there, you're family.

Yes, it's Olive Garden. When scored in criteria like food quality, visual appeal, and order accuracy, Olive Garden's food apparently held up equally well whether it was fresh from the kitchen or driven across town.

It's worth noting, though, that Olive Garden did not score the highest in either the dine-in or off-premises category—that honor goes to Chuy's Tex-Mex. In the list of the top full-service restaurants, Olive Garden came in fourth for off-premises (58.1% satisfaction rate) and second place for dine-in (56.4% satisfaction rate). However, this represents the smallest gap between the dine-in and off-premises scores of any eatery in the list, making it the most consistent across ordering channels. The chicken parm might not be your favorite, but it's the same "chicken parm" no matter where in the country you order it. La vita è bella.

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