Today, Cheesecake Factory
I'm a fan of Grand Lux. When I tell folks that the best meal I had in my trek out to Vegas last summer was at an upscale Cheesecake Factory concept called Grand Lux at the Venetian, they wonder whether I spent the rest of my time at the Circus Circus buffet.
It's not a fair accusation. I only ate at Circus Circus once! Still, Grand Lux is just that good, and I'm glad to see today's opening here in my South Florida back yard, so I can get another fix of that spicy caramel chicken once the holidays blow over.
Cheesecake Factory sees itself opening as many as 150 Grand Lux units before it saturates the market. Grand Lux will give the company a new growth vehicle once it completely canvasses the country with feasible Cheesecake Factory locations.
How many Cheesecake Factory restaurants will be enough? In an interview with The Miami Herald, CEO David Overton figured that 200 units would suffice. At first glance, that number seems low. Brinker International
Cheesecake Factory is aiming smaller because its restaurants are much larger. The restaurateur's perpetual popularity has helped it grow its sales at the unit level during all but one of its quarters over the past 14 years. The end result of more tables, higher ticket prices, and speedy table turnover has a typical Cheesecake Factory establishment generating three to four times the sales of a rival casual-dining chain.
That kind of consistency in a fickle restaurant space has priced the shares as richly as some of its signature treats. The stock is trading at 35 times this year's earnings and a robust 29 times next year's analyst estimates. No, it's not cheap, but it seems as though Cheesecake Factory has always commanded a healthy premium to the market, given its steady performance.
It may only get better. Last month, Buckingham Research indicated that wait times at Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang's
Rich eats. Rich stock. Rich wait for a table. Some chains have all the luck.
Longtime contributor Rick Munarriz fancies the Crusted Chicken Romano at Cheesecake Factory, though he has been known to try something different off the menu from time to time. He can't remember the last time that he still had room for dessert, though. He owns shares in Cheesecake Factory. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.