The point is restaurants, like any brand, have to stand for something specific, and deliver that benefit time after time. That’s how they come to find their niche and a following. No restaurant can appeal to all people all the time — sometimes you want fine dining, and sometimes you want something that appeals to your baser instincts. You don’t want either for every meal. But you do want to know that what you’re getting is exactly what you signed on for. That’s how restaurants stay in business — by reaching a specific clientele, they bite off their own piece of the dining pie, so to speak.
Consistency covers a lot of sins. It has to do with the food, of course, but it’s also about the staff, the look of the place, the speed of food ordering and delivery, and other aspects of the dining experience. It doesn’t always have to be perfect — it just has to be what you expect. As another example, my wife and I sometimes go dive hunting with another couple. We’ll actually do research to find the meanest place where you can sit down for the meal, and have our yuks about it as we go. There are a few of these dives that we’ve come to love — they’re not very attractive (which actually is the point of dive-hunting), the staff is not the warmest or most informative, and the food is just fair to middling, although good enough. But the prices are good and sometimes that’s what we’re in the mood for, and we know it will always be the same whenever we hit these joints.
That’s what keeps us coming back, and that’s makes them good restaurants.