The Worst Offending 24 Restaurant Chains With the Most Complaints?

B efore I accidentally stumbled on a list of the worst offending 24 restaurant chains with the most complaints, I dined at a restaurant a few days ago in the late afternoon, figuring I had already skipped lunch and may as well enjoy dinner. Arriving at a time before the dinner crowds was a good idea, I thought: enjoy a nice meal relatively quietly.

After I was seated at a booth at the far end of the restaurant, the waiter came and took my order…

Loud Music

…and then the loud music started to blare; and when it is the type of music of which I am not particularly fond — as was the music which played over that loudspeaker on that late afternoon — the annoyance level tends to significantly increase.

I did not ask to move, as I became entranced in witnessing an interesting example of poor customer service: not long after I arrived, a family of six people arrived and was seated in a corner surrounded by windows. One wall faced south — meaning that the late afternoon sun shone strongly on them and the table. After pulling down the translucent window shades themselves, the family still was not comfortable and decided to move over to the next set of tables, moved together to accommodate them.

Members of the family had complained to the wait staff of the restaurant about the loud music more than once — and not only was the volume of the music not abated; but it also seemed to actually have been increased decibelarily.

I just made up a new word: decibelarily. That may become one of my favorite new words which I made up since the word concrastination — meaning to do something immediately — which is the antonym of the word procrastination. People have challenged me that there are already words which have similar meanings to concrastinaton — but none have been successful with conjuring an actual word…

…but I digress, as usual.

The adult female — I assume she was the mother of the family — finally had had enough and told a member of the wait staff that they were leaving because they could not take the loud music. They packed their drinks to go with them — and they left.

While they were leaving, the adult male — I assume he was the father of the family — voluntarily came over to my table to complain about the music and how they were forced to leave because it was too loud. Not much else was said because — well — the music was too loud for us to hear each other speak.

A couple of women walked in not long after the family left; and they were promptly seated at one of the tables — now separated once again — which were occupied earlier by the family. After a while, they got up and left that table as well because the music was too loud.

When I finished eating and got up to leave, that section of the restaurant had one couple seated in what was otherwise an empty area of the restaurant as the dinner crowds started filling up the other areas of the restaurant — and the music was still loud in that area.

I cannot comment on the integrity of the family or the two women; but none of them appeared to be doing anything wrong while they were patrons of the restaurant — which led me to this question: how can a restaurant just let a family of six people leave instead of simply reducing the volume of the loudness of the music? Has the state of customer service really deteriorated to the point where the loudness of music is more important to the staff of a restaurant than ensuring the satisfaction of customers?

Top Restaurant Complaints and Worst Offenders?

For its November 2016 issue, Consumer Reports published this article which listed the restaurant chains with the worst offenders and top complaints in terms of four factors: excessive noise levels; poor service; problematic food preparation; and a dirty environment.

The restaurant chains are listed in the order in which Consumer Reports listed them:

  • Fricker’s
  • Dave & Buster’s
  • Taco Mac
  • Native Grill & Wings
  • Quaker Steak & Lube
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille
  • Huddle House
  • P.J. Whelihan’s Pub + Restaurant
  • Joe’s Crab Shack
  • Hurricane Grill & Wings
  • Wild Wing Cafe
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Iron Skillet
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Buffalo Wings & Rings
  • Dick’s Last Resort
  • Logan’s Roadhouse
  • House of Blues
  • Bar Louie
  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews
  • Waffle House
  • Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill
  • Duffy’s Sports Grill


I have not even heard of half of the restaurant chains on that list — and no, the restaurant at which I dined with the loud music was not included on that list. I have only dined at five of them at the most — and the experiences were so “memorable” that was I unsure as to whether or not that number is actually lower.

At 38 percent, Texas Roadhouse was considered the noisiest restaurant on that list. I think I dined at one. If I recall correctly, it is one of those places where peanut shells cover the floor as patrons can graze from the small metal pails of fresh peanuts while awaiting an available table — and the noise level is indeed high. I can say that I have never dined on anything better than a decent meal at one of those “roadhouse” places — meaning I have never had a great or positively memorable meal with great service.

Buffalo Wings & Rings ran rings around its competitors at the top of the list of poor service at 31 percent; Iron Skillet was panned with the worst restaurant chain pertaining to problematic food preparation at 16 percent; and at 23 percent, Huddle House huddled as the restaurant chain with the dirtiest environment and one percentage point ahead of Waffle House and Fricker’s — all according to that aforementioned article.

I bring you this list of restaurant chains — which you should probably avoid; but then again, this is comprised of the opinions of readers of only one publication, so take it with a…er…grain of salt — because if you happen to be fortunate enough to arrive at your destination early enough to partake in a repast in time for dinner after flying as a passenger aboard an airplane, you most likely are not in the mood for a noisy restaurant with poor service.

Speaking for myself, I would want a relatively clean and quiet place to eat which serves at least decent quality food where I can order, get my food prepared to my liking as quickly as possible, and leave to get to my hotel room where I can sleep comfortably, restfully and peacefully — but that simply my personal opinion, of course…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

5 thoughts on “The Worst Offending 24 Restaurant Chains With the Most Complaints?”

  1. AlohaDaveKennedy says:

    Not surprised Dick’s Last Resort made the list. They love to give their customers complaints. A nice, quiet place to eat Dick’s is not. I am sure the management of Dick’s is quite disappointed not to be at the top of the complaint list and will encourage their staff to work harder.

  2. Wendy says:

    I’ve eaten at 10 of the 24 on this list without a complaint. Bar Louie and quaker steak and lube are two of my favorite places to eat. I’m normally eating there at lunch time.

  3. sw says:

    Hate hate hate loud music in a restaurant. Usually when I stumble on that type of place the staff running it are young and the management is apathetic. Yelp is your friend.

  4. William Colsen says:

    Yes, same noise problem experience at Texas Road House. Looks like they don’t care because business must be good and customers keep commuting back. But a company striving for great customer service would expect to please all customers by having a more comfortable atmosphere viice loose several.

  5. Mike says:

    When I’m traveling in the Midwest and Eastern US I like independent restaurants, often diners featuring coney island hot-dogs or gyros or some regional speciality involving corn meal and deep-frying. Good old American food often brought to you by Greek or Palestinian diner owners. I usually get fried liver and onions myself, which is consistently good. A milkshake machine is a big plus, and real iced tea another. You know better than to get the brown gravy, but there’s always Tums by the register if you forget.

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