It's no secret that when diners go out to eat these days they prefer the fresh ingredients, customizable menus, pleasing restaurant environs, and reasonable prices that fast-casual chains are providing. They're the one segment of the restaurant industry that's provided consistent growth since the recession.
Where Cheesecake Factory excelled was in food quality, besting both Cracker Barrel and Red Robin, as well as tying with Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday on healthy menu offerings, and tying again with Cracker Barrel on atmosphere.
Interestingly, though, it didn't even rank in the top five in terms of being kid-friendly, having fast or friendly service, or in being a good value. Cracker Barrel, on the other hand, ranked high in all seven categories, making it a worthy runner-up.
Now that's rich
Not that everything is running as smooth as custard. Cheesecake Factory's high-end chain, Grand Lux Cafe, saw its comps fall 2.7% last quarter. In fact, the chain has only had a couple of quarters in which same-restaurant sales were in positive territory. Of course, with only 11 Grand Lux restaurants, it's not a particular problem, but it may eventually make for an asset that will be put up for sale.
With the restaurant industry as a whole facing a tough economic environment, and casual-dining in particular being buffeted, the ability of Cheesecake Factory to continue to forge ahead makes it one dining experience that investors just might want to pull up a seat at.
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The article You'll Never Guess Which Casual Dining Restaurant Is Everyone's Favorite originally appeared on Fool.com.
Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, and Zoe's Kitchen. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Panera Bread. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .
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