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Maggiano’s sales soar with help from a booming to-go business

Off-premise sales are up 81% compared to before pandemic, and they are highly incremental, executives said.
Maggiano's same-store sales rose 21% in the last quarter. / Photograph: Shutterstock
Maggiano's same-store sales rose 21% in the last quarter. / Photograph: Shutterstock

Maggiano’s, generally known as a destination for special occasions, is increasingly becoming an option for people who’d rather stay in. 

Off-premise sales at the 53-unit Italian chain rose a whopping 81% last quarter compared to pre-pandemic levels, contributing to same-store sales growth of 21% in the period ended Dec. 28. 

What makes the to-go business so impactful, executives said, is that it attracts an entirely different audience than dine-in.

“Customer insights are telling us that off-premise sales … are a different occasion than the dine-in get-togethers and celebrations that Maggiano's is known for,” said Kevin Hochman, CEO of Maggiano’s parent Brinker International, during an earnings call Wednesday.

That means the sales are highly incremental, which is reflected in Maggiano’s strong comps. 

Not only that, but off-premise customers tend to be more frequent patrons than on-premise ones, Hochman said. 

To-go sales industrywide have remained steady even as the pandemic has eased, providing a new source of growth for many restaurants. Even the pricy delivery business has held up, to the surprise of many observers. 

"I think the need states related to that consumer is a little different," said Brinker CFO Joe Taylor. "I think the demographics using that probably skews towards the higher economic side of the equation. So right now, the resiliency and the willingness to continue to use the delivery channel is still in place."

Delivery and pickup together accounted for about 27% of Maggiano’s sales in the quarter. 

It was the highlight of an altogether impressive holiday season for the chain. Traffic rose 8.4% and was positive across all channels, including dine-in and banquet. Mix was also favorable. Prices, meanwhile, were 7.7% higher than a year ago. 

All of that has Brinker executives feeling good about the brand. 

“The solid recovery of the core business plus the incrementality of the fast-growing off-premise channel, coupled with an improved business model, makes us very excited about the future of Maggiano's,” Hochman said.

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