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CALABASAS, CA-Citing the desire to return more capital to shareholders and a renewed focus solely on top-notch locations, the Cheesecake Factory is cutting back growth of its namesake restaurants, and halting expansion of Grand Lux Café in 2008, executives said at its fourth quarter conference call. The slowdown is the result of more stringent site selection criteria, with the company only opening in top sites as it battles a difficult economic environment.

Plans now call for opening between six and eight Cheesecake Factory units this year. During fiscal 2007, the company opened 21 new restaurants. The company also will debut its initial Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen concept this year. No closures are being considered.

“Our plan is to not turn down an A site,” said David Overton, chairman and CEO. “As they come up, we absolutely will be taking them.”

Using the same site criteria and with a limited number of available sites, the company plans no new Grand Lux Cafes this year. “We’re actually disappointed we can’t open Grand Lux in 2008,” Overton said.

For the quarter, total revenues were $406.3 million, up about 13% from the previous year. Comparable restaurant sales decreased about 0.4%. Net income (including one-time charges) was $13.3 million. The company operates 139 restaurants throughout the US under the Cheesecake Factory name and 13 Grand Lux Cafes.

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