America’s Biggest Steakhouse Chain Is Planning To Open Dozens of New Restaurants
Outback Steakhouse is bloomin' once again. Following a decade of store closures, the casual dining chain is back on track to start opening new restaurants, CEO Dave Deno told investors on Friday during an earnings call. The steakhouse plans to open as many as 100 locations in the coming years, with six scheduled for 2022.
A new, streamlined restaurant model is driving the growth. Outback 2.0 will be 16% smaller than a regular Outback Steakhouse and feature an "optimized" (smaller) dining room and a dedicated space for to-go orders. The chain is hoping to bring the new restaurants to Southern markets like Florida and Texas.
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The redesigned Outback will also—crucially—be more profitable than the original, costing about 20% less to build. Coupled with Outback's ongoing work to streamline its business (the chain was investing in off-premise as early as 2019), the new model will offer franchisees "attractive unit-level returns."
Smaller restaurants have become increasingly common in casual dining, with top brands like Applebee's, IHOP, and Panera in the past year all opening more streamlined versions of their classic designs.
Outback is also riding an ongoing boom in steak sales: the steak category of casual dining has been thriving in the past year, with premium chains reporting record sales. Outback is by no means an exception, with same-store sales up over 9% in the most recent quarter. And with its sleek new restaurant design, America's beloved steakhouse is positioned to keep that growth going.