The United States is a multicultural and multiethnic nation and this national trend of diversity is expected to consistently increase (Josiam and Monteiro, 2004; Sukalakamala and Boyce, 2007). One reflection of this cultural and ethnic diversity is the variety and prosperity of ethnic restaurants in the American foodservice market. The U.S.
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ethnic food market generates $75 billion in annual sales, around 65% of which is attributed to the foodservice industry (US ethnic food market, 2005). Yet, the fast growth of ethnic restaurants is not driven entirely by the growing number of new immigrants. In fact, 75% of ethnic food consumption comes from non-ethnic customers (US ethnic food market, 2005). As lifestyles change and dining out becomes more and more commonplace, many customer’s desire new flavours and experiences.
Along with this popularity is the rapid development of Chinese restaurants. According to Chinese restaurants news (2007), there are about 43,139 Chinese restaurants in the United States, which is more than the total number of all McDonalds Wendy’s and burger king domestic outlets combined. Chinese restaurants generate over $17.5 billion annual sales, accounting for about one fourth of overall annual sales generated by ethnic restaurants in the U.S. (Chinese Restaurant News, 2007). Known for its good taste and great value for the price, Chinese cuisine is among the “big three” most popular ethnic cuisines in the U.S. food service market (National Restaurant association, 1995). It is estimated that 90% of the American population has tried Chinese food and 63% of Americans eat Chinese food each month (George, 2001). Facing more sophisticated American consumers and increasing competition in the restaurant industry, Chinese restaurants can no longer succeed by depending on good taste or low price alone. According to National Restaurant Association (2000a,b), due to an increased familiarity with ethnic food. American consumers’ attitudes toward ethnic cuisine have recently changed. Today, an exotic experience is not enough to attract consumers to an ethnic restaurant. Customers are no longer willing to trade off inferior service or atmosphere for an opportunity to try new flavours. They prefer an excellent overall dining experience. Moreover,
Chinese restaurants are facing increasing challenges from other emerging Asian restaurants and from the changing tastes of American customers who prefer healthy or spicy food. Therefore, a better understanding of the key attributes influencing customer satisfaction and post dining behavioural intentions in Chinese restaurants will provide important practical implications for Chinese restaurants operators.
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