Before delving into the data breach in more detail, first the good news -- the Q1 results and its outlook. EPS came in at $1.60, easily ahead of the $1.29 Capital IQ Consensus. In fact, the $0.31 beat was its best since 4Q16. On a year/year basis, the result was equally impressive as CMG reported a loss of ($0.88) in 1Q16. Helping the cause here was a 150 basis point decrease in food costs, primarily driven by lower food waste and testing costs, and bringing the preparation of lettuce and bell peppers back to our restaurants. Also, restaurant level operating margin improved sharply to 17.7% from 6.8% in the year ago quarter. Again, lower food costs played a role here, but, so did lower marketing and promotional spend and efficiencies in labor.
Perhaps most encouraging was the +17.8% for comparable restaurant sales, which came in ahead of the 15.5% average estimate. This was a dramatic improvement from the -29.7% figure it posted in 1Q16, illustrating that customers are once again feeling comfortable eating at CMG. The vast improvement was due to a combination of better traffic, higher average check, and reduced promotional activity. All positive signs for CMG. Combined with the 57 new restaurants opened during the quarter, CMG's revenue grew a healthy 28% year/year to $1.07 billion, edging out the $1.05 billion expectation.
During the conference call, management stated that April comps are currently running in the low double digit area, signaling a bit of a slowdown from the Q1 performance. However, the later Easter holiday this year had some impact and management commented that the overall underlying trends seen in Q1 are continuing so far into Q2.
In regards to the data breach, the company's IT security team detected unauthorized activity on the network that supports payment processing at its restaurants. It immediately began an investigation and reported the issue to payment card processors and law enforcement agencies. Specifically, it is focusing on card transactions for the period of March 24, 2017 - April 18, 2017. At this point, it is too early to determine what the outcome of the investigation will be, but, the company believes that a majority of the costs associated with the data breach will be covered by insurance.
Still, this news comes at an inopportune time as it appears customers were finally ready to return to CMG after the E. Coli outbreaks. This news probably won't have as severe an impact as the E. Coli situation, but, it is a blemish on an otherwise encouraging report.