Casual dining company Frisch's Restaurants (NYSE:FRS) reported solid fiscal second-quarter (ended Dec. 14) financial results today, with the company turning in 10% sales growth for the first six months of its fiscal year. Same-store sales increased nearly 5%, and earnings per share for the first half of the fiscal year were $1.12, up from $1.02 in the prior period.

The shares ticked up slightly in early trading this morning, but, despite generally low trading volumes, the upward move was nothing new for Frisch's investors. The company's stock has been a solid performer over the last 12 months, outpacing the S&P 500 by a handy margin. So, what's the story behind this small company little known outside the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana region?

Cincinnati-based Frisch's operates and franchises restaurants -- more than 140 in total -- under the Frisch's Big Boy (casual family dining) and Golden Corral (casual grill/buffet dining) names. The operator works in a crowded space, with diner options around its price range starting from fast food options McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Wendy's (NYSE:WEN), to the likes of Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB) and Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD).

But it's done well under the circumstances, turning a net profit and paying a dividend every quarter since going public in 1960. In recent years, Frisch's has steadily grown its income statement numbers while also improving its cash position with decent free cash flows.

Here's one good example of a little guy (or is it a Big Boy?) that's keeping the pace with its competition -- and rewarding shareholders in the process. (Another worth looking at is Steak 'n Shake (NYSE:SNS), written up in a November article.)

Prefer Bob's or Elby's to Frisch's? Talk Big Boy on our Frisch's discussion board. Only at

Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at