Casual-dining chains build momentum

Casual-dining chains build momentum

Segment drives sales with beverage programs, healthful dishes, gift cards

After years of being pummeled by the economy, casual-dining operators are shaking off the hits and starting to win back the tight-fisted consumers who for so long spurned them for lower-priced fast-casual and quick-service

During the first quarter of 2012, consumer spending at casual eateries grew, while that at limited-service venues dipped, according to the Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey by Dectiva, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based market research firm.

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