Individual Restaurant Company, which owns the Piccolino and Bar & Grill brands, has described trading as "encouraging" after sales for the first weeks of May improve on the same period last year.
The company said that it had seen the effect across the country, and not just in the South East.
"This is the first time such a positive comparison can be made over successive weeks since the first effects of the economic downturn were felt in the last part of 2008," the company said in a trading update this morning.
It also pointed to an underlying improvement in trading patterns up until the end of April this year, once the two weeks of extreme weather at the start of the year were discounted.
Despite the positive news, the company, which has a total of 33 casual dining restaurants, said consumer spending remained tight, and the adverse effects of the football World Cup would be "difficult to predict".
"A number of England games are taking place during key trading periods. As a result trading for the first half will be impacted by the performance of the Group during this period in June," the statement said.
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