Casual-dining restaurant chains are not escaping the recession. Despite better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, Chili's Grill & Bar gave a downbeat forecast for the company’s first quarter of fiscal 2010, which began in June.

New promotions at Chili's helped bring customers into the restaurants, but early July sales were much less than projected, according to Douglas Brooks, Brinker chief executive during a conference call. Brinker, the parent of Chili’s, also owns ‘On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina’ as well as Maggiano's Little Italy restaurants.

At Texas Roadhouse, Chief Executive G.J. Hart expressed optimism about commodity costs for the balance of the year. However, same-store sales for the company also remained under pressure in July, dropping 5 percent to 6 percent from last year, even as it posted slightly better year-over-year margins in the second quarter. "The environment remains tough and uncertain," Hart said on a conference call earlier this week.

Other restaurants reporting declines in same-store sales in the latest quarter included Cheesecake Factory Inc., P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Applebee's and IHOP restaurants.

Source: Meatingplace.com