Should investors be hankering for Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB)? The casual dining chain's same-store sales managed a 4.1% increase in November, as compared with the same month last year. The company also stood firm on its earnings forecast for the year and for the fourth quarter.

It does, of course, sound like a bit of an improvement over last month. If you recall, Fool contributor Marko Djuranovic recently discussed Applebee's third-quarter earnings, which included a little ratcheting down of fourth-quarter earnings expectations. Meanwhile, company-owned, same-store sales were also slow in September and October.

On that note, systemwide sales at Applebee's for November were up 4.1% (which includes franchise restaurants), while company-owned (non-franchise) stores' sales remained a bit sluggish, up 1.9%. Guest traffic in that segment increased a mere zero to 0.5%, with a higher average check making the difference.

For now, Applebee's seems to be stuck in a lackluster phase, despite the appetite many consumers seem to have for quick-and-cheap McDonald's (NYSE:MCD). On the other end of the spectrum, maybe the luxury goods mania that's been going on in retail has given some consumers a taste for slightly swankier chains -- ever-popular Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) springs to mind.

However, Applebee's malaise seems to have extended to other rivals, such as Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RI), which recently showed signs of softness, as did long-beleaguered Darden (NYSE:DRI), which has continued to struggle with its Red Lobster chain.

Applebee's is currently trading at a forward P/E of 20, which seems pricey under the circumstances. Given the uncertainty surrounding guest traffic and same-store sales, for the time being, it seems like a better time to watch the industry carefully than to gobble up shares.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.