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Casual dining restaurant operator Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. (RRGB - Analyst Report), which currently boasts more than 470 restaurants across the United States and Canada, is set to open a new restaurant in Chicago shortly.

At present, the gourmet burger expert has about 16 units in Illinois, which makes the state a relatively newer market for Red Robin compared to California which has as many as 88 units.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry in Illinois plays a pivotal role in the state’s revenues. According to this research site, the state’s restaurants are expected to record $21.7 billion in sales in 2013, 3.3% of total projected sales in the U.S.

With the resurgence of consumer confidence, management has accelerated its unit openings and plans to unveil another 20 new units in 2013. Moreover, the company, in association with its franchises, is expected to debut in four new cities in 2013.

This Colorado-based company is also exploring new development opportunities in the untapped markets of Florida, New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Texas to further enhance its presence in the U.S.  It is also set to open its second location in Baltimore, Md in mid-July. In fact, Maryland is also an under-penetrated US state with a potential to record $10.3 million in restaurant sales in 2013.

That’s not all. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company is also very active on the expansion of its other formats. The company’s smaller prototype restaurants, Red Robin’s Burger Works, will likely accelerate its growth in non-traditional locations and also improve return on invested capital.

Other players in the restaurant industry, which look attractive at current levels, include The Wendy’s Co. (WEN - Analyst Report), The Cheesecake Factory Inc. (CAKE - Analyst Report) and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW - Analyst Report), all carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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