Tourism Industry News

AAA Releases Updated Restaurant Diamond Rating Guidelines

07/08/2009 15:54

Oorlando (PRNewswire / WorldTourismNews) - AAA has updated its Restaurant Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines, the blueprint for evaluating and rating more than 27,000 restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The guidelines are revised as needed to reflect changing industry trends and member expectations, with the last update occurring in 2003.

As an example of change that impacts the guidelines, AAA's Director of Tourism Information Development Michael Petrone cites increased consumer awareness of food content. "Many of today's restaurant customers seek healthier options and are more knowledgeable than ever before about the food they eat," said Petrone. "As a result, restaurants are featuring more fresh-made options, smaller portions, healthier kid's meals and local, sustainable ingredients.



"The updated guidelines reinforce AAA's longstanding pledge to provide members with reliable travel information through on-site inspections and accurate ratings for the restaurants we approve," said Petrone. The new guidelines, effective immediately, are accessible to establishments at The update includes input from AAA's professional inspectors, key representatives from the hospitality industry and member comments. Broader language is incorporated to embrace the increasing creativity of chefs and owners.

AAA inspectors dine at more than 10,000 restaurants a year, which enables them to recognize and validate trends as they occur.

  Ten 2009 restaurant trends identified by AAA inspectors:
  1. Innovation: greater creativity and differentiation leading to more eclectic decor, menu items, styles of service and pricing policies.
  2. Healthier options: organic ingredients, hormone-free meats and smaller portions including bite-sized desserts.
  3. "Greener" restaurants: more establishments employing eco-friendly practices such as recyclable or compostable containers, energyefficient appliances and eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
  4. Attention to value and convenience: options such as fresh prepackage to-go items and one-price meals.
  5. Regional ethnicity: increased focus on cuisines from smaller, regional areas such as southern Mexico or Piedmont, Italy.
  6. Fewer general cuisines: fare identified by specific country of origin such as Korea or Vietnam rather than a broader region such as Asia.
  7. Increased use of local ingredients: menus highlighting fresh, indigenous ingredients.
  8. Multiple serving sizes: options such as small plates, prix-fixe dining (complete meal with several courses), shareable dishes, family-styl platters   and bar menus.
  9. Upgraded/expanded children's menus: child versions of signature items and/or healthier options for kids.

10. Diverse beverage menus: selections such as micro-distilled liquor, culinary cocktails and organic wine, specialty iced tea, organic
      coffee and flavored/enhanced water.

AAA's Diamond Rating System is the only ratings system that covers all of North America and uses professional inspectors to conduct on-site evaluations using published criteria available to all establishments. With some 32,000 Approved lodgings and more than 27,000 Approved restaurants, AAA rates more properties than any other rating system.

The assignment of a AAA rating of One to Five Diamonds marks the completion of a successful annual evaluation. The first step is to become AAA Approved by meeting AAA's rigorous core requirements. Consumers can access information about AAA Diamond Ratings at

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

AAA news releases, high-resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at


For more information contact:

Heather Hunter of AAA

Phone: +1-407-444-8005,



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