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Restaurants See Prime Locations

Executives from restaurant chains Darden Restaurants Inc, California Pizza Kitchen Inc and Buffalo Wild Wings Inc said on Thursday they are seeing prime real estate open up as tenants back out of deals.

"The availability of quality sites is greater than it has been -- more than we were thinking it was going to be just a year or so ago," Brad Richmond, chief financial officer at Darden, whose chains include Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse, said at the RBC Capital Markets Consumer Conference in New York.

Many restaurants and retail stores have seen traffic fall as U.S. consumers wrestle with the downturn in housing, rising job losses, a credit crunch and higher fuel and food costs.

As a result, they are trimming growth plans or closing stores. Some companies are backing out of planned developments for financial reasons, while others have seen deals languish because developers cannot sign up enough tenants.

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