Deflation in commercial-lease rates and a swelling inventory of vacant retail properties are allowing many restaurant chains to keep expanding in spite of the nation’s gloomy economic outlook.Relatively unimpeded by the financial crisis, some mature brands and midtier growth concepts with strong balance sheets say they are in the driver’s seat for the first time in years when it comes to picking sites and winning concessions from landlords.Shopping malls and so-called lifestyle centers are ...

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