We've seen conflicting reports lately on the state of casualdining.The most recent articlereports on a Friedman, Billings, Ramsey analyst note earlier thisweek that said California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory andP.F. Chang's China Bistro will all face negative impacts fromhousing woes in Arizona, California and Florida, as consumers inthose states cut spending.But anotherreport just last week had a Raymond James analyst upgradingBrinker International, P.F. Chang's and many other chains. AnalystBryan C. Elliott said demand in the sector is stabilizing, and manycasual-dining chains could have better-than-expected results.So what's the real story?We've all read plenty aboutrising food costs. Plus, consumers with tighter walletsbecause of the downturn in the economy are said to preferquick-servicevenues and grocery-prepareditems to casual-dining fare as of late.Has all of this beenoverblown, and are we soon going to see these experiencedrestaurant operators bounce back? Or will problems in the economymixed with high food costs and rapid real estate expansion lead tofuture restaurant closings?

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