"Premium is the theme in every consumer category right now, and that includes restaurants," said Nicole Miller, vice president and senior research analyst with San Francisco-based ThinkEquity Partners LLC.
"Premium doesn't mean expensive or luxury, but rather the small pleasures that get consumers to aspire to your brand, whether it involves coffee or quick casual dining."
The economy is no longer the overriding factor, with more high-end restaurants expected to debut.Even if economic concerns prompt consumers to forgo the purchase of a pair of new shoes, Miller
said, that doesn't also mean they'll be headed to the kitchen to start doing more cooking.
recommends the Cheesecake Factory
, considered to be of high quality in management, concept and food.
, which operates convenience restaurants that specialize in sandwiches, tossed salads, soups, desserts and coffee, is recommended by Miller
.It operates nearly 100 restaurants in 16 states and the District of Columbia.Miller also recommends Panera Bread Co., a retail bakery-café business operating both under that parent name and as St. Louis Bread Co.
It has more than 200 company-owned restaurants and more than 500 franchise-operated restaurants in 35 states.Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc.
, a specialty coffee roaster and marketer that offers 32 types of coffee on its menu, is recommended by Miller
.This chain operates nearly 100 stores and also has a division for home delivery, grocers and food service.Miller
also likes Starbucks Corp.
, king of the coffee shops with more than 9,500 locations in the U.S. and overseas.