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March 19, 2013

Purdue survey finds older diners like cleanliness and service

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Older Americans who eat out are most concerned with cleanliness and service, a Purdue University survey found.

The survey, led by Richard Ghiselli, head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, is a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 1998.

Both surveys sought the preferences of diners 50 and older. In both surveys, cleanliness - of kitchens, dining areas and tables, and restrooms - were the leading concerns.

Also highly rated in both surveys was service. "The older you get, the more you like being served," Ghiselli said.

The survey found that older customers prefer to have the server handle the payment.

The area with the biggest change from 1998 was price sensitivity. "We definitely saw an increase in the number of diners who are concerned about the price of their restaurant meals," Ghiselli said. "The survey was taken last spring, so the economy still was somewhat struggling, which probably accounts for the change."

That also may have helped drive the preference the survey found for fast-food restaurants for breakfast and lunch.

Not surprising, taste and quality of food is among the most desirable features.

One area in which older diners have very definite opinions is seating, Ghiselli said. They like chairs with arms and booths. "What they really don't like are swivel chairs attached to tables."

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Source: Richard Ghiselli, 765-496-2636, ghiselli@purdue.edu