The 11 Most Popular Chain Restaurants in the U.S., According to Boomers

Pleasant meeting. Happy aged people talking during the meal while relaxing together in the restaurant

The 11 Most Popular Chain Restaurants in the U.S., According to Boomers

In the United States, the Baby Boomer generation comprises 26 percent of the population. Advertisers recognize this generation's loyalty towards restaurants. They also recognize that Boomers have disposable income to spend on dining out. The typical Baby Boomer is worth $206,000, making them a valuable target for marketers.

The data shows that certain chain restaurants are more popular among Baby Boomers than other generations. American Baby Boomers tend to gravitate toward traditional family restaurants. Moreover, they tend to eat in the same places when they go out. While we focused on American Boomers, in another poll, Canadian Boomers also expressed their loyalty to their favorite restaurants. Approximately 36 percent say they tend to visit the same restaurants when they go out to eat.

Furthermore, the dining preferences of Baby Boomers were compared to those of Generation X and Millennials. Some distinct trends emerged.

Exploring the Dining Habits of Baby Boomers

Recent data suggests specific reasons for Boomer restaurant loyalty. Baby Boomers frequently dine at the same restaurants because they seek familiarity and comfort in their dining experiences. They prefer establishments where they feel at ease and know what to expect.

These restaurants often offer classic dishes and familiar cuisines. Boomers tend to prefer traditional food. Additionally, Baby Boomers want the best value for their money. As a result, they select restaurants where they receive good quality food at affordable prices. Moreover, Baby Boomers frequently socialize in familiar places. These restaurants serve as gathering places where they can meet up with their friends and acquaintances. Eating out helps foster a sense of community for Baby Boomers.

Loyalty programs and discounts for repeat customers are effective ways of motivating Boomers to keep visiting their favorite restaurants. Convenience and ease of access are also important factors that influence their choices. Boomers tend to prefer restaurants located near their homes. To sum up, the reasons behind their loyalty to certain restaurants are familiarity, socialization, and practicality. Now, let us explore the favorite chain restaurants of the Boomer generation.

Lunch and talks. Interested attentive senior woman sitting in the restaurant drinking tea and listening to her girlfriend.
Baby Boomers are extremely loyal to the restaurants they love.


A&W Restaurant

Cold Refreshing Root Beer Soda in a Glass

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A&W is famous for its tasty root beer, which is sold in grocery stores. However, it is also a restaurant chain that serves classic diner food items such as hot dogs, burgers, and chicken strips. As of February 2024, A&W has 406 restaurants and is the oldest restaurant franchise chain in America. Despite new diner restaurant chains, A&W has survived, mostly because of their loyal Baby Boomer customers.

Cracker Barrel

Turkey dinner at Cracker Barrel

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According to a recent survey, 68% of Baby Boomers love Cracker Barrel. Meanwhile, only 50% of millennials share the same sentiment. The restaurant's popularity among Boomers could be attributed to its nostalgic Southern charm.

The first Cracker Barrel restaurant and gift shop opened in Tennessee in 1969. Since then, it has expanded to over 600 locations in 40 states, often located near main highways. The restaurant's location close to the Interstate makes it the perfect place for retired folks to stop on road trips. Its affordable food also appeals to Boomers.

Moreover, the restaurant's front porch, lined with rocking chairs and walls adorned with Americana décor, provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere for Boomers. They may feel a sense of nostalgia for simpler times when eating at Cracker Barrel.

Dairy Queen

Valentine's Day Recipes

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Dairy Queen received high ratings from all three generations, but the Boomers were the most loyal customers. The Boomer generation gives Dairy Queen a 77 percent approval rating. Since the opening of its first ice cream shop in 1940, Dairy Queen has been selling delicious treats to the Boomers. It has now expanded to over 6,800 locations worldwide. Alongside their ice cream, Dairy Queen now also offers burgers and hot dogs.

Golden Corral


Golden Corral is a popular buffet-style restaurant that offers all-you-can-eat meals at a great value for the money, making it a favorite among Baby Boomers. Families can enjoy unlimited servings of their favorite dishes. Established in 1973, Golden Corral has expanded to almost 400 locations across the United States.

Nathan's Famous

hot dog eating contest set

©Rodrigo Eick/Shutterstock.com

Nathan's Famous has been serving hot dogs since 1916. This legacy makes it a brand that Baby Boomers have grown up with and which may hold a nostalgic appeal for them. Every July 4th, Nathan's Famous hosts a popular hot dog eating contest that creates a sense of patriotism and fun around this all-American food, which is relatable to Boomers. However, it is worth noting that Nathan's Famous is also a popular brand among Millennials.

Olive Garden

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

©Yelp /Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

According to one survey, 64 percent of Baby Boomers enjoy eating at Olive Garden. This fast-casual Italian restaurant was established in 1982 as a division of the General Mills Company. Olive Garden's free breadsticks, unlimited salads, and large portion sizes have contributed to its popularity among Boomers. However, younger generations and those who are more health-conscious may not find the restaurant as appealing.

Red Lobster

Close up easy homecook meal served several red orange color arranged aligned perfectly cooked garlic butter lobster tails with parley baked or broiled for lunch and dinner at home


According to a recent survey, only 48 percent of Millennials enjoy dining at Red Lobster. Meanwhile, sixty-three percent of Boomers listed it as one of their favorite restaurants. Although Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits are popular across generations, they can now be purchased at stores. As a result, younger generations tend to avoid Red Lobster's dimly-lit interiors and opt for other seafood restaurants instead.


Subway Foot-Long Roast Beef Lunch Delicous but Healthy

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Subway was established in 1968 and has since expanded to over 40,000 locations worldwide. Subway's expansion is due in part to the loyalty of their Boomer customers. They value the restaurant's affordable and extensive selection of sub sandwiches.

Waffle House

Belgian waffles with blueberries, strawberries covered with chocolate

©Stepanek Photography/Shutterstock.com

According to recent statistics, 59 percent of Baby Boomers love the Waffle House. This chain boasts over 2,000 locations spread across 25 states. The first Waffle House opened in 1955 in Georgia, so many Boomers grew up going to the Waffle House.

These small-town diners, as is the case with Cracker Barrel, are usually close to the interstate. As a result, the Waffle House is a popular stop for travelers of all ages. Moreover, they are open twenty-four hours a day, every day, including holidays. Waffle House serves a variety of very affordable dishes, including waffles, omelets, melts, steaks, burgers, and sandwiches.


Wendy's Burger and Fries


According to a recent survey, seventy-one percent of Baby Boomers love the square-shaped burgers served at Wendy's. The founder of the fast food chain, Dave Thomas, named the restaurant after his daughter when it first opened in 1969. Wendy's menu has remained relatively unchanged over the years. As a result, this familiarity may be one of the reasons why Boomers are so fond of its food.

White Castle

Warm morning sunlight highlights the simple but beautiful design of this classic diner counter with it's galvanized steel counter, bright chrome seats with red padding and bright red tiles.

©Ricardo Reitmeyer/Shutterstock.com

This burger chain, which started in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921, claims to be the first-ever fast-food hamburger chain in the world. Currently, there are only 349 White Castle restaurants in 14 states. This chain's popularity with Boomer customers is what keeps this restaurant alive. According to recent statistics, 58 percent of Boomers patronize this restaurant.

In Summary

There are several reasons why some restaurants tend to be more popular among Boomers than other generations. For many Boomers, the familiarity and comfort of dining in places they have known throughout their lives is a major factor. Boomers also tend to have a preference for more traditional foods and tastes. In addition, Boomers often look for a good value for their money. Furthermore, they also prefer convenience and choose restaurants close to their homes. Many Boomers also appreciate loyalty programs. While each generation has unique characteristics, they tend to have specific brand preferences. This holds true for the Baby Boomer generation.

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