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Texas Roadhouse’s contrarian view of delivery

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Seemingly every other chain is charging into delivery, with phenomenal results. But Texas Roadhouse wants no part of it.

“We encourage all of our competitors to do as much delivery as they can so they can deliver lukewarm food to their people,” founder and CEO Kent Taylor snapped to investors this week after being asked why the chain is breaking from the herd. “We will stick to our guns on this.”

With the chain outstripping most of its competitors in the second quarter, posting a 4% rise in same-store sales, maybe it knows something the other brands don’t. (Another member of the Over 4% Club, Olive Garden, is also a delivery skeptic, offering that option only for large orders.)

Here are the reasons Texas Roadhouse gives for forgoing delivery.

Slowing in-store service

“When you do delivery and you have to package everything, it takes about twice as much time to get that food out of your kitchen,” said Taylor. That would “negatively impact the people who are dining in.”

Pushing kitchens beyond their capacity

“Most people are going to call for delivery between 6 o'clock and 8 o'clock, when we're our busiest and our kitchens are already at pretty high capacity,” said Roadhouse President Scott Colosi. “Easy for a restaurant company who's underutilizing their kitchens and who's had a lot of negative traffic for the last five to 10 years. We're just in a different position.”

To-go makes more sense

“We much prefer you to come in and dine with us and get that hospitality,” said Colosi. “If you want to order to-go, you still get hospitality from our people.”
Plus, “the increases in online to-go have not come at the expense of dine-in sales,” he added.

Yet, he noted, “we don’t advertise to-go.” The chain would prefer to have customers grab a table or a bar seat.

Concerns about quality

“What does happen to the food as it's being delivered?” Colosi rhetorically asked after Taylor remarked that delivered meals often arrive lukewarm.

That concern, Colosi said, is the biggest reason why the chain has no interest in delivery. 

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