Independent Restaurants Beating Chains at Curbside

An update to this study is now available.


Coyle Hospitality sought to examine the customer experience with curbside pick-up/takeout amid COVID-19 restrictions. The goal was to compare experiences at national and regional chain brands, local restaurant groups, and independent restaurants.

Curbside Pickup Sign


A total of 145 restaurant customers completed the survey. The respondents spanned across 29 U.S. states and had ordered curbside pick-up or takeout from a restaurant within the last 30 days. The dates of the study track visits from April 6, 2020 to April 10, 2020.


At national/regional chain restaurants, consumers reported that staff took fewer COVID-19 precautions than staff at local restaurant groups and independent restaurants.


Precaution Type National/Regional Chain Local Group Independent Restaurant
Face Mask 11% 43% 33%
Gloves 60% 81% 74%
Hat/Head Covering 33% 48% 41% 


At independent restaurants, 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that clear messaging regarding safety precautions was prevalent on the order or online. In comparison, 71% of consumers at national/regional chain restaurants and 66% of consumers at local restaurant groups agreed or strongly agreed that clear messaging regarding safety precautions was prevalent.


The curbside handoff from staff members was more seamless at independent restaurants (92% agreed or strongly agreed) as opposed to national/regional chain restaurants (79%) and local restaurant groups (70%). Consumers noted that at independent restaurants, the pick-up process was fast and efficient, with clearly marked areas for curbside pick-up.


Customers were more likely to order takeout from independent restaurants than from national/regional chains or local restaurant groups.


Customers found that the pricing/value for the money was better at independent restaurants than at national/regional chains or local restaurant groups.

Download the full PDF report here.

Check out Jim Coyle’s reaction and comments on this research in an editorial post.

Learn more about Coyle’s Curbside Mystery Shopping programs.

© 2024 Coyle Hospitality Group. Reproduction of any material without written authorization is strictly prohibited.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?