FSR 50: Top 10 Casual-Dining Chains

Olive Garden

Led by Applebee’s $4.5 billion in sales, casual-dining leaders collectively tallied more than $25 billion in 2012.

Casual dining, where checks average $12 to $50 and there is some alcohol service, is still clawing out of a deep hole that saw customers trading down to quick service and fast casual. However, in 2012 this sector captured sales and unit growth, and continues to reassert itself in the American consumers’ consciousness.

Among the top 10 casual-dining players, the category’s leaders collectively accounted for more than $25 billion in sales and amassed an average sales gain of 4.6 percent, while unit count increased nearly 2 percentage points. Only two—TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesday—saw a drop in sales.

Those numbers fail to excite ITG analyst, Steve West, who says same-store sales among many major casual-dining brands remain flat amid sluggish traffic.

“We might be seeing overall sales numbers increasing, but that’s being driven by unit growth,” he says. “And we’re seeing higher check averages, but that’s largely because restaurants are passing on higher food costs.”

That said, casual-dining leaders are taking innovative measures to woo America’s discretionary dollars—such as Applebee’s new design prototype and Buffalo Wild Wings’ positioning as the ultimate dining experience for sports and value.

As casual dining’s top headline grabber, Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings added 71 units in 2012, a nearly 9 percent increase, while a 21 percent increase in sales outpaced all other casual-dining competitors.

Click column headers to sort

Company Namesort descending2012 U.S. Sales ($000)2011 U.S. Sales ($000)% Change2012 U.S. Units2011 U.S. Units% Change2012 AUV ($000)
Buffalo Wild Wings2,473,9832,044,75221.08848138.72,775
Chili's Grill & Bar3,700,000*3,624,000*2.11,2751,288-1.02,887
Olive Garden3,632,0003,476,0004.58037576.14,650*
Outback Steakhouse2,396,0002,327,000*3.0771775-0.53,165
Red Lobster2,643,0002,528,0004.56796740.73,900*
Ruby Tuesday1,320,000*1,400,000*-5.7743776-4.31,750*
TGI Friday's1,722,000*1,742,000*-1.1555565-1.83,075*
Texas Roadhouse1,544,3311,373,47512.43883666.04,085
The Cheesecake Factory1,597,5001,542,187*3.61621563.810,100

*Technomic estimate / Source: 2013 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report



Of the ten, only 4 are worthwhile to me


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