There always seems to be restaurant news on the menu. As I do every week, let's take a look at some of this week's more appetizing stories.
1. California dreaming
There's more dough at California Pizza Kitchen
Is it a great report? Not exactly. The top-line gain was the handiwork of expansion, as comps fell by 2.4% during the period. The company was able to smoke past last year's profit mark, but mostly because it took huge store closure hits in 2007. Still, with most casual-dining concepts struggling, the pizza and pasta chain smells like a relative winner.
2. Getting cozy with Cosi
The sandwiches are flat, and so were the third-quarter results at Cosi
In all fairness to Cosi, last year's deficit included a favorable insurance settlement. Back that out, and the company's operating results improved by 16% this time around. Cosi has just 144 mostly company-owned stores, though several franchised units have recently opened in the United Arab Emirates. With global expansion in the works, I guess that at Cosi, the world is flat, too.
3. Batman and Red Robin
Not all burger chains are hopping at the store level. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
Earnings for the quarter fell to $0.40 a share, or $0.45 a share before asset impairment charges.
4. The steaks aren't high
This isn't a good time to be a high-end chophouse. Between consumers wary of overspending, and corporate budgets shying away from entertaining business clients at swanky steakhouses, how can Morton's Restaurant Group
It can't. The company behind the legendary Morton's of Chicago posted both a sharp 7.6% dip in comps and an overall loss for the quarter. It's no surprise to see both Morton's and Ruth's Hospitality
5. Hunting for caribou
Did you hear the one about the premium coffeehouse operator that's improving its numbers? Neither did I, but at least Caribou Coffee
Sure, the cash flow improvement is the partly the sorry result of fewer closures this time around, but the company's net loss would have narrowed before a litany of one-time charges hit.
6. Pie in the sky
How are you feeling about pizza delivery chains these days? The good news is that business could be brisk, as more folks decide to order a pie instead of eating out. The bad news is that franchisees have to fret over things like rising dairy costs and fluctuating labor and fuel prices.
Amid that tricky climate, Papa John's
Papa John's owns just 23% of its domestic locations, but it wants less exposure to the operating risks. The company wants to refranchise more of its units, in an effort to own less than 20% of its stateside pizzerias. This is certainly not the best time to be selling units, but Papa John's is willing to offer 100% financing to prospective buyers, under the assumption that they will seek third-party lenders once the credit markets stabilize. That's right -- they'll give you the dough and the, uh, dough.
Check out this week's dessert specials:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is the rare foodie who embraces restaurant chains. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.