As casual dining goes, Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RI) gets little respect. Come clean, now. You have never said, "Let's go eat at Ruby Tuesday, tonight!" You just wind up there after you realize that it's demoralizing to hang around with a beeper for an hour or so at Outback Steakhouse (NYSE:OSI) or Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) on a Saturday night. You just settle for Ruby Tuesday.

But never sell Plan Bs short. Ruby Tuesday has been a consistent performer. Since being spun off by Morrisson's back in 1996, the stock has more than tripled. One of the keys to the nearly 700-unit chain's winning ways has been its ambitious franchising program. The concept has grown from just three franchised locations five years ago to 223 units today.

While casual dining giants like Brinker (NYSE:EAT) and Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB) tend to hog the sector limelight, Ruby Tuesday has performed pretty well in the shadows.

Last night the restaurant operator posted a 19% spike in quarterly earnings per share on a 12% uptick in sales. That seems hearty, but it's actually off the company's own targets which are pegged at 20% earnings growth and 15% revenue growth over the next five years.

That's right, management has a long-term focus -- the CEO founded Ruby Tuesday with some of his fraternity brothers three decades ago. If Ruby Tuesday is serious about hitting those aggressive projections, one thing is certain: It won't be in Wall Street's shadows for too much longer.