Sweetness, revisited. When Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) posted a slide in restaurant comp sales back in March, investors had every right to be nervous. The company pointed to the heavens, faulting pesky storm clouds. The jaded followed suit, only coming to the conclusion that the sky was falling.

After 42 consecutive, possibly even miraculous, quarters of higher same-unit sales, the company proved mortal. And in a trendy world of eateries where taste buds go fickle, mortality is simply one lost breath away from concept fatality. Hot chains sputter and fade away. Others such as Outback Steakhouse (NYSE:OSI) bounce back, but it's rarely painless.

Cheesecake Factory may have dropped the ball earlier this year, but after regaining its winning comp ways during the June and September fiscal periods, it can claim having higher same-store sales in 44 of the last 45 quarters.

For the third quarter, the popular casual-dining chain reported earnings of $0.28 a share on a 22% rise in sales. This time, it also pointed to the sky, only this time to praise the heavens. Good weather helped prop up capacity at some of the units with outdoor patio seating.

As famous for its huge portions and quality entrees as it is for its list of dozens of signature cheesecake desserts, the company seems to have skirted mortality yet again. With only 68 locations -- and now another 16 slated to open next year -- it will take years before it exhausts its expansion potential the way its more mature casual-dining peers such as Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB), Darden (NYSE:DRI), or Brinker (NYSE:EAT) may have.

Keeping the streak alive with a 1.8% gain in third-quarter comps? That's just the topping on the cheesecake.

Does a trip to Cheesecake Factory sound like a calorie-counting nightmare? Need some dining tips from your fellow Fools? All this and more -- in the Fools Fighting Fat discussion board. Only on Fool.com.