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Outback units reopen to 83% of pre-pandemic levels

The shift by off-premise customers to dine-in service was minimal, according to the chain’s parent.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sales bounced back to 83% of pre-pandemic levels at the 23 Outback Steakhouses that offered limited dine-in service during the week ended May 3, brand owner Bloomin’ Brands said Tuesday.

The 17% decline in same-store sales compares with a 38.4% drop in comparable sales for the chain as a whole, according to the sales update released by the company.

Bloomin’ indicated the 23 partially reopened Outback branches saw only “limited declines” in their off-premise business, suggesting the stores pulled in customers who had not been ordering takeout or delivery while unable to dine out.

Outback restaurants averaged $39,648 in off-premise sales for the week, a decrease of $180 from the week earlier.

“We are encouraged by these results, and as of the end of day today, we expect to have 336 total Bloomin’ Brands restaurant dining rooms opened with limited seating capacity across multiple states,” CEO Dave Deno said in a statement.

Bloomin’ is also the parent of Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Those brands did not fare as well as Outback, the company’s largest brand.

Comparable sales at Fleming’s, the priciest of Bloomin’s holdings, declined 74.1% for the week ended May 3. Bonefish Grill’s same-store sales fell 70.7%, while Carrabba’s comps decreased 47.2%.

The company did not provide the sales figures for units of those chains that had partially opened their dining rooms last week. In the states that had permitted a resumption of dine-in service, capacity was usually capped at 50% or 25% of normal dining room seating.  

The financial feasibility of operating at that limited capacity has been repeatedly raised by operators. The limited opportunity was one of the reasons half of Texas’ restaurants opted to sit out that state’s reopening day. Eating places there were allowed to use 25% of their pre-pandemic seating as of May 3.

Deno noted that Bloomin’s brands had adjusted their seating process to allow patrons to remain in their cars until their table was prepared.

“Our decision not to terminate or furlough any of our employees will allow us to reopen dining rooms quickly with no rehiring or training expenses,” Deno said.

The company said it had $270 million in cash on hand as of May 4. It announced plans yesterday to offer $200 million in senior convertible notes to a select group of institutional investors. The notes are due in 2025.

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