Would Solo Diners Be Different? The Relationship among Perceived Quality of Restaurant Attributes, Satisfaction, and Return Patronage Intentions
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Solo dining is on the rise. Not only is there a surge of single-person households, changes in lifestyles, and busy schedules, which are attributed to the increase of solo diners, but the act of dining out per se has become one of America�s most popular pastimes as much as attending a sporting event or a show. Thus, solo diners are typically taking every opportunity to visit restaurants�from an upscale independent restaurant to a casual fast-food chain�to experience delicious food. Nonetheless, the segment of solo diners has been neglected in the literature and in practice in spite of the emphasis placed on excellent service quality and customer satisfaction as a means to attract people to return to an establishment. In an attempt to fill in the gaps left by previous studies, the current study examines the interrelationship among solo diners� perceived quality of restaurant attributes, satisfaction, and return patronage intentions. A web-based survey was conducted to collect data from solo diners in the United States. Results of the study indicate that perceived quality of the food, service, and physical environment attributes positively affected satisfaction and return patronage intentions. The results also showed that satisfaction had a positive influence on return visits. Finally, the mediating role of satisfaction among the three perceived qualities of food, service, and physical environment attributes and return patronage intentions are found to be effective. The conceptual model of the current study provided new knowledge for understanding the important yet under-researched segment of solo diners in the hospitality industry. Findings of this study also offered insights into managerial decisions regarding food quality improvement, employee training, and optimal deployment of physical environment attributes.
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