Study Identifies Restaurant Flaws That Leave a Bad Taste in Diners’ Mouths

Bad odor and dirty surfaces cited as top factors for a lack of repeat business

CINCINNATI--()--Loyalty programs aren’t the only way to build repeat restaurant business. A new survey commissioned by Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS) and conducted by Harris Poll identifies common issues that would keep Americans from returning to restaurants. Conducted online among 2,034 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, the study found that 97 percent of U.S. adults would be influenced to not return to a restaurant if they experienced some type of issue related to the facility.

“Even with a master chef in the kitchen, a dirty restroom or unattractive entryway can leave a bad taste in a diner’s mouth,” said John Engel, Senior Marketing Manager, Cintas. “Repeat business is vital to the success of any restaurant. Restaurant managers must ensure that their employees are READY™ to address facility flaws to keep diners returning.”

The top five factors that would turn diners away from a restaurant include:

  • Dirty surfaces (e.g., tables, chairs, booths, dust on decor, dust bunnies on floors) - 86 percent
  • General bad odor - 85 percent
  • Dirty restrooms (e.g., floors, stalls, mirrors, odor) - 80 percent
  • Dirty/slippery floors (e.g., wetness, dirt/dust) - 72 percent
  • Entryway cleanliness (e.g., cigarette butts, overflowing trash cans, unkempt appearance) – 70 percent

Consumers also cited plumbing issues (e.g., toilets and/or sinks not working) (68 percent), broken or cracked glass (e.g., counters, windows) (53 percent), noise (e.g., loud music, loud employees, phones ringing) (47 percent), dirty/discolored ceiling tiles (47 percent), poor outdoor patio conditions (37 percent), lighting issues (e.g., light fixtures out, not working properly, poor lighting) (36 percent) and other issues (21%) as factors that would influence them in choosing to not return to a restaurant.

The study also found that gender plays a role in which factors influence a customer to avoid a restaurant. Women are less likely to return to a facility with a dirty entryway (75 percent) than males (64 percent). More women (72 percent) also said a plumbing issue would prevent them from returning to a restaurant, compared to 63 percent of men.

Older Americans, ages 65 and older, said that dirty/slippery floors would influence their decision to return to a restaurant (88 percent vs. 61 percent ages, 18-34).

For more information about Cintas’ solutions for restaurants, please visit

Editor’s Note: Cintas has created a downloadable infographic to accompany this poll data at:

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Cintas from June 7-9, 2016 among 2,034 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact, please contact Christina Alvarez at

About Cintas Corporation:

Cintas Corporation helps more than 900,000 businesses of all types and sizes get Ready™ to open their doors with confidence every day by providing a wide range of products and services that enhance our customers’ image and help keep their facilities and employees clean, safe and looking their best. With products and services including uniforms, floor care, restroom supplies, first aid and safety products, fire extinguishers and testing, and safety and compliance training, Cintas helps customers get Ready for the Workday™. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas is a publicly held company traded over the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.


Mulberry Marketing Communications
Jennifer Petersen

Release Summary

A new Harris Poll survey identifies common issues that would keep Americans from returning to restaurants; bad odor and dirty surfaces cited as top factors for lack of repeat business.


Mulberry Marketing Communications
Jennifer Petersen