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    Competitive Watch: Chick-fil-A, Five Guys Score Highest in QSR Survey

    Chipotle and Panera Bread also emerge as consumers' favorite quick-service restaurants.

    LOUISVILLE , Colo. -- Chick-fil-A and Five Guys Burgers and Fries were the highest-scoring brands in a survey of favorite quick-service restaurants conducted by Louisville-based Market Force Information, Nation's Restaurant News reported.

    Lorton, Va.-based Five Guys and Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A topped the list of favorite restaurants indexed by market size. Five Guys, which has nearly 500 units in 36 states, had the top score at 14.4 percent, while 1,485-unit Chik-fil-A placed second at 12.5 percent.

    More than 3,000 consumers were surveyed and asked to name characteristics of the restaurants they liked most. Chick-fil-A and Five Guys finished with the most and second-most citations of friendliness and cleanliness. Chick-fil-A also had the most citations for accommodating children, and Five Guys tied with Chipotle for highest quality of food.

    Denver-based Chipotle, the nearly 900-unit fast-casual chain, was third among restaurants indexed by market size, with a 7.7-percent score, while St. Louis-based Panera Bread garnered a 7.3-percent score for its system of more than 1,300 bakery-cafes.

    Market Force also released figures for the survey in which market size was not taken into account. By that measure, Chick-fil-A still did well, tying quick-service giant McDonald's with 11 percent of all votes. Taco Bell came in third with 7 percent of all votes, followed by Panera Bread and Subway at 6 percent, and a four-way tie among Burger King, Chipotle, Arby's and Five Guys at 4 percent, according to the report.

    According to Market Force's survey, when consumers were asked to predict their spending habits at quick-service restaurants for the first quarter of 2010, slightly more than half said they expect to eat out the same amount. Five percent of the survey respondents said they would eat out at quick-service restaurants more early next year, while 44 percent said they plan to cut back on fast-food meals.

    Market Force's survey was conducted in early December with more than 3,000 respondents picked from the company's network of more than 300,000 mystery shoppers and retailers. Approximately 75 percent of survey participants were women, who hold significant sway in household purchasing decisions, Market Force said.

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