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Half a dozen food chains have held piping-hot stock market debuts in the past year to meet a growing appetite for "fast-casual" restaurants catering to younger and more affluent diners willing to pay more for fresher, higher quality fare than they expect to find at traditional fast food places like McDonald's. Wall Street hopes the new crop of publicly traded eateries will replicate the success of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc , which has grown to about 1,800 restaurants since its 2006 debut. With consumer spending showing signs of improvement and more diners keen on antibiotic-free meats and other healthy foods, now is a great time for restaurants in that niche, especially ones adept at building grass-roots buzz and loyalty, experts said. But investors have pushed the shares of some of those restaurants - Shake Shack Inc , Zoe's Kitchen Inc and Habit Restaurants Inc - to sky-high levels that imply growth expectations that may prove hard for the management to deliver. Shake Shack - the big outperformer - is up 260 percent since it went public at the end of January.
ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece stepped up diplomacy with euro zone partners on Tuesday to try to avert a potentially catastrophic funding crunch this month, when it must make a big debt repayment to the IMF as cash reserves dry up. Ministers were traveling to Frankfurt, Brussels and Paris to plead for a loosening of the financial stranglehold on Athens after leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke by telephone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe's pre-eminent leader. "They discussed the course of the negotiations in Brussels and exchanged views on the issues of Greece's deal with its lenders," a Greek government official said of the call on Monday night, without elaborating. Intensive talks continued with the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank on a cash-for-reform deal but there was no sign of a breakthrough on key differences over pensions, labor reform and the minimum wage.
Lawyers for the convicted Boston Marathon bomber prepared to call fresh witnesses on Tuesday as they argue that a federal jury should sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to life in prison, rather than death, for his role in the deadly 2013 attack. Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty last month of killing three people and injuring 264 others with a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race's crowded finish line on April 15, 2013, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later as Tsarnaev and his older brother prepared to flee Boston. Defense lawyers, who at the trial's opening in March conceded that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had committed all the crimes of which he was accused, contend that 26-year-old Tamerlan was the driving force behind the bombing, with his younger brother coming along out of a sense of sibling loyalty.