It doesn’t matter how good the food is, if one element of the dinning experience isn’t up to scratch, it could be enough for more than nine-in-10 US diners to never return.

The study of 2,034 US adults ages 18 and older, conducted by Harris Poll, found that litter and cigarette butts in front of the doorway would be enough to keep 70% of diners from returning. However, the biggest single issue cited by 86% would be dirty surfaces – i.e., dust on wall-mounted decoration or dirt, dust or marks on tables, booths and the floor.

“Even with a master chef in the kitchen, a dirty restroom or unattractive entryway can leave a bad taste in a diner’s mouth,” said John Engel, Senior Marketing Manager, Cintas, a business supplies company that funded the study. “Repeat business is vital to the success of any restaurant.”

Other big turn-offs included a general bad odor (85%), dirty restrooms (80%) and dirty or slippery floors (72%).

However, although 97% of all respondents said that some issue would stop them from returning, some diners are very easily swayed – 47% wouldn’t return to a restaurant with a loud ambience or loud employees, and 36% would give an establishment with poor lighting a miss.

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