Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

Sub-Department

Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Robin B. DiPietro

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to develop a comprehensive scale, containing multiple restaurant attributes and authenticity conceptualizations, to measure restaurant authenticity; to test a model examining the mediators and outcomes of restaurant authenticity at independent, full service Southern-style restaurants at food tourism destinations in the Southeastern U.S.; and to determine if the influences of restaurant authenticity differ between food tourists, general tourists, and locals.

A four-step approach adapted from Netemeyer et al. (2003) was used to develop the restaurant authenticity scale (RAS). Ultimately, the RAS contained six authenticity conceptualizations, 20 items and three dimensions: restaurant heritage and environment, food and beverage, and restaurant diners.

A conceptual model based on social cognitive theory, Mehrabian-Russell model, congruence theory, the consumer-based model of authenticity, and associative network theory was then tested. Overall, the model contained 10 hypotheses and each was confirmed. By confirming these hypothesis, it was determined that relationships between restaurant authenticity and satisfaction and restaurant authenticity and restaurant loyalty were both partially mediated, while a relationship between restaurant authenticity and place attachment was fully mediated.

Lastly, perceptions of food tourists, general tourists, and locals were compared via multigroup moderation analysis and MANOVA. Findings suggested that restaurant authenticity has the strongest influence on locals.

This study contributed to both theory and practice. For theory, it determined which items, authenticity conceptualizations, and dimensions were included in the RAS. By testing the conceptual model, the efficacy of several theories and models were confirmed in the foodservice and food tourism context. Restaurant authenticity’s influence on relevant mediating and outcome variables was also confirmed. Lastly, results from the multigroup moderation analysis and MANOVA tests determined that some differences exist between the food tourists, general tourists, and locals with regard to authenticity.

For restaurant practitioners, the structure of the RAS should call attention to certain restaurant attributes with regards to authenticity. Also, the multigroup moderation analysis and MANOVA tests determined that local restaurants should actively reach out to locals. For tourism practitioners, results from the conceptual model suggest that authentic local restaurants may serve as effective venues to engage tourists with certain travel promotions.

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