Study Shows Diners Willing to Pay More for Cloth Napkins

A March, 2013 study by Milliken and Company yielded some surprising results – and restaurant owners and managers would do well to pay attention.

According to the study, restaurants that are looking to improve the public’s perception of their establishment and services should strongly consider switching out their paper napkins for cloth versions. And, while some restaurateurs may not see a reason to ditch their paper napkins for real linens, the fact that consumers are willing to pay more per entrée at an establishment with cloth versions should be enough to get them contemplating the switch.

Finding out what the public wants – and making the changes necessary to keep up with consumers’ demands – is one of the most important factors to running a successful eating establishment. Aside from just a basic preference, nearly half of the US diners surveyed reported paying up to (and sometimes even over) 60% more for food at a sit-down restaurant (casual or formal) that provided cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

In addition to pointing out the importance of listening to your target audience, the study also found that nearly 80% of diners immediately notice the way a table is set when visiting a sit-down restaurant. An even larger percentage than that associate a well set table, nice table cloth and linen napkins with a better overall restaurant appearance, environmental-mindedness, better food quality and better service.