Consumers may be adding a few more restaurant visits, according to a Meatingplace.com report. In 2011, restaurants will likely see a modest rise in sales as the economy slowly recovers. The fastest growth is expected at large national full-service chains, according to Fitch Ratings.

Full-service restaurants should lead the recovery because diners with higher incomes who are faring better in the recession tend to favor them. While diners will continue to be attracted to value-menu options, aggressive discounting is likely to be less prevalent because of higher food prices.

“Higher protein prices, particularly for beef, and expiring food contracts mean operators will incur higher food costs. Modest and strategic menu-level price increases should help minimize the effect on restaurant profitability,” said Fitch director Carla Norfleet Taylor.

Taylor says diners are slowly returning to restaurants as the economy recovers, albeit at a slow pase."We're anticipating a better year for U.S. restaurants in 2011 as consumers slowly ease back into pre-recession dining behavior," she said.

Sales at established restaurants have been uneven across the sector's different segments this year and should remain that way into 2011, the credit rating agency said. Regional fast-food chains are expected to lag national competitors.

Source: Meatingplace.com