Bradenton-based restaurant takes top spot in national survey of breakfast casual eateries

Bradenton-based First Watch was ranked first in a national survey of favorite breakfast casual dining restaurants conducted by Market Force.

“Breakfast and daytime-only restaurant chains are enjoying growing popularity, and First Watch is a prime example. The chain, which boasts fresh, custom-made foods, appeared in Market Force’s study for the first time, and captured the top spot in the breakfast category with a Customer Loyalty Index score of 58 percent,” Market Force said in its report.

Trailing First Watch in the survey were Bob Evans (51 percent), Waffle House (49 percent), Perkins (46 percent), IHOP (40 percent), Village Inn (38 percent) and Denny’s (37 percent).

First Watch was founded in Pacific Grove, Calif., in 1983; partner Ken Penderey relocated the company headquarters to Bradenton in 1986.

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Bradenton-based First Watch was recently ranked first in customer loyalty in a national survey of breakfast casual restaurants. The company serves only breakfast and lunch. provided photo

With more than 350 restaurants in 31 states, First Watch is the largest daytime-only dining company in the United States.

“First Watch is honored to have been named America’s favorite breakfast restaurant. Receiving this recognition is even more meaningful to us because it is voted on by the consumer,” CEO Chris Tomasso said Thursday.

“It is nice to know that our focus on consistently delivering exceptional experiences by offering unique, innovative and delicious dishes made using only the highest quality ingredients resonates with today’s customer. We’re grateful to our more than 6,500 employees who do this every day with a smile — without them, this would not be possible.”

First Watch restaurants are open from 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. The First Watch portfolio also includes The Egg & I and Sun & Fork restaurants.

Manatee County First Watch restaurants are located at 7118 Cortez Road W., 4324 53rd Ave. E., and 8306 Market St.

The survey was conducted online in November 2018 across the United States. The pool of 6,724 respondents represented a cross-section of the four Census regions, according to Market Force.

Maggiano’s Little Italy received the highest overall score for casual dining restaurants of all kinds on Market Force’s Composite Loyalty Index with 64 percent. Texas Roadhouse was second with 63 percent, First Watch and Cracker Barrel tied for third with 58 percent, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen was fourth with 57 percent.

Last year’s winner, Bonefish Grill, fell four spots to tie for fifth alongside Longhorn Steakhouse and Blaze Pizza.

Among general menu restaurants, Cracker Barrel led the field with 58 percent on the customer loyalty index, followed by BJ’s Brewhouse (55 percent) and Cheesecake Factory (50 percent). Red Robin, Ruby Tuesday and Chili’s Bar and Grill were tied with 40 percent.

In the pizza restaurant category, Blaze Pizza and Mellow Mushroom took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, besting third-place Pizza Hut and fourth-place California Pizza Kitchen. Blaze Pizza, with a location at 215 N. Cattlemen Road in the University Town Center, has a made-to-order approach and saw its sales skyrocket to $279 million in 2017, according to Market Force.

The Mellow Mushroom restaurant location closest to Bradenton is at 6727 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.