Restaurant Meal Experiences From Customers' Perspectives : A Grounded Theory Approach
The purpose of this doctoral dissertation has been to increase the knowledge of customers’ view on relation to commercial restaurant meals and thereby to increase the knowledge within the restaurant industry about customers’ perspectives about meals. The dissertation is based on four studies of customers’ meal experiences in á la Carte restaurants in Norway. In addition, a methodological paper has been written to illuminate central aspects of the method used in the dissertation.An explorative and qualitative approach was selected in the data collection, focus group interviews and semi-structured interviews of experienced restaurant customers from à la Carte restaurants were used and analysed within a modified grounded theory approach. The participants were from the cities of Oslo and Stavanger in Norway. The conceptual models in the four studies are first of all the result of the analysis of the data collected. The first study includes a conceptual model illustrating different aspects of the payment process of the bill; important aspects were expectations, sensibility, and reactions. It was demonstrated how a delay in the payment process had negative affects on the customers meal experiences. In the second study, the five important elements of customers’ meal experiences were: The core product, the restaurant interior, the personal social meeting, the company, and the restaurant atmosphere. These five aspects were woven tightly together and the restaurant atmosphere occurred as the “glue” that connected the different meal experience aspects into a whole. The third study focused on the customers’ choices of restaurants, and the occasion occurred as an important element in the decision-making process of choosing a restaurant. The fourth study revealed which consumer values were important by restaurant visits, and identified 13 single values that were integrated into five consumer value categories: Excellence, harmony, emotional stimulation, acknowledgement, and circumstance value. The fifth paper provides a thorough discussion of the usefulness of the modified grounded theory applied in the studies.When an overall comparison of the different studies is made, there are several indications that the restaurant employees, and especially the waiting staff, represent the restaurant’s most important assets in the meetings with customers. Increasing the knowledge level of the staff about the customers seems to be an actual element, and thus education and training will be of great importance for development of the restaurant field.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Customers; meal; grounded theory; à la Carte restaurants; meal experience categories; Culinary Arts and Meal Science; måltidskunskap
Date of Publication:01/01/2005