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Analyzing the shakeup among top casual-dining restaurants


Texas Roadhouse has been on a roll for the past several years now, churning out record sales and average unit volumes and managing astonishingly high demand as it enters its 12th consecutive year of traffic gains.

Such momentum hasn’t necessarily been the case for many of its casual dining peers in a challenging post-pandemic environment. Many have experienced declining traffic patterns and, in some cases, unit count retrenchment. This divergence pushed Texas Roadhouse past one of its biggest segment competitors in 2023, as the Louisville, Ky.-based chain generated higher sales than Applebee’s for the first time, according to new data from Technomic Ignite.

Texas Roadhouse also snuck up on casual dining leader Olive Garden, though it’s worth mentioning that Olive Garden’s 2023 was certainly remarkable in its own right. The Darden Restaurants’ brand finished 2023 with $5.11 billion in sales, an 8.8% increase over 2022’s $4.69 billion.

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