What's the difference between Smith & Wollensky (NASDAQ:SWRG) and Smith & Wesson? Only one's got a shot these days. Get it? Shot? Oh well, my comedy is about as bad as the upscale chophouse's aim these days.

Smith & Wollensky produced rather bland quarterly results. Restaurant sales inched 3% higher, to $27.6 million, while the net loss per share for the period narrowed from $0.35 to $0.22.

The shortcoming was thinner than the numbers would suggest, since the restaurant chain is calculating its numbers based on 8% fewer outstanding shares year over year. You also have charges related to stock-based compensation and the closing of its damaged restaurant in New Orleans. Without those items, Smith & Wollensky would have lost just $0.11 a share.

So, sure, the posh steakhouse is improving, but what's the deal with the red ink? Even carnivores who love their sirloin rare don't like to see that much red on the bottom line. This is historically the company's worst quarter, but do you see other public steakhouses failing to break even in the seasonally sleepy September quarter?

Ruth's Chris Steak House (NASDAQ:RUTH) hasn't done it since going public last year. Morton's (NYSE:MRT) produced a meager profit, but at least it was in the black. RARE Hospitality (NASDAQ:RARE) and OSI (NYSE:OSI) are better known for their casual steakhouse concepts than their smaller upscale operations, yet both of them have been consistently profitable.

How telling is it, in this often-volatile stock market, that Smith & Wollensky has never spent a day trading for more than single digits since going public in the spring of 2001 at $8.50 a pop?

I haven't given up on Smith & Wollensky. Seeing it trade for roughly half of its IPO price more than five years later may be an opportunity if it continues to improve its operations, and if some of its secondary concepts, like Quality Meats and other New York City stand-alone eateries, prove themselves worthy of expansion.

Until then, all I'm hearing is blanks. At least it's comforting to know that the company's aim is getting better.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is always on the lookout for a good steakhouse. Thankfully, he has plenty -- including a Smith & Wollensky -- in Miami. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.