Slate launches an in-depth investigation into the mysterious success—during recessionary times, no less—of upscale China-lite restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s. The secret? No panicky discounting, no particularly mind-blowing food, just a renewed focus on extremely efficient cross-training and kitchen operations optimization. Not sexy stuff, but interesting reading for those curious about how chain restaurants live, die, or thrive.

For what it’s worth, on the Chowhound boards P.F. Chang’s gets a lot of love.

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