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The California-based restaurateur BJ’s Restaurants Inc. (BJRI - Analyst Report) recently added a BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse unit in Jacksonville, Fla. This restaurant, located in Gate Parkway, will beef up the restaurateur’s domestic portfolio.

Spread across approximately 8,500 square feet, the outlet accommodates around 280 diners at a time. Also, the contemporary ambience of this unit is expected to improve sales for BJ’s which is famous for its deep-dish pizza, handcrafted beer and Pizookie dessert.

Once focusing primarily on expanding business in the California and Texas markets, BJ’s is now exploring several underpenetrated markets. Among the underserved markets, Florida needs a special mention where BJ’s currently operates only 12 units as compared with 62 units in California.

The restaurant industry in Florida is considered one of the largest in the U.S. According to the National Restaurant Association, the state’s restaurants are expected to record $33.3 billion in sales in 2013. We consider this favorable for the Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company’s further expansion plans in the state.

BJ’s currently boasts as many as 135 units in the U.S. and has always been committed to increase its coverage even in economic uncertainty. This is the sixth of the company’s targeted 17 restaurant openings for 2013.

Another restaurateur, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. (RRGB - Analyst Report), also remains on track to open 20 units worldwide by 2013. Recently, it unveiled a unit in Baltimore, Md. which has strong growth prospects and the potential to record $10.3 billion sales in 2013.

Other players in the industry that look attractive at the current levels include Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (CBRL - Snapshot Report) and Jack in the Box Inc. (JACK - Snapshot Report). Both carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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