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Outback, Carrabba’s switch to a hybrid delivery setup

Parent Bloomin’ Brands is partnering with DoorDash, an arrangement that will also add lunch delivery from Bonefish Grill.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill are following Panera Bread and a host of other operators in switching to a hybrid delivery model, adding DoorDash as a third-party service to supplement their self-delivery capabilities.

The deal signed by the casual chains’ parent, Bloomin’ Brands, also affects sister concept Bonefish Grill, which already uses DoorDash to deliver dinner orders. Under the new partnership, DoorDash will begin delivering lunches for the seafood chain.

The exclusive arrangement with DoorDash will expand the scope of Bloomin’s delivery operation to 660 Outback locations and 200 Carrabba’s branches by the end of October, according to the announcement of the deal. The two chains offered self-delivery at 630 locations at the end of June.

Bloomin’ has spent two years developing a self-delivery system for Outback and Carrabba’s, its two biggest brands. “We’ve done a remarkable job growing our own delivery business, and DoorDash adds another layer of accessibility and convenience,” CEO Dave Deno said in an announcement. “This partnership opens the door to new customers and gives existing customers another option when they choose to dine with us in the comfort of their own home.” 

Although self-delivery can be significantly more profitable than relying on a third-party service for ordering and transporting meals, restaurant chains have discovered that DoorDash and its competitors have fans who are loyal to a particular party when dining at home.  

Operators have also opted for self-delivery because they can capture valuable information that way about customers’ preferences and ordering habits. Third parties have traditionally refused to share the data, but chains say the services are starting to bend as they realize more flexibility is needed to continue adding restaurant brands as partners. 

Neither DoorDash nor Bloomin’ revealed details about who would get the information collected on shared customers.

Bloomin’, like Panera, had initially refused to use third parties for delivery, citing concerns about steep commission fees, capturing customer data and maintaining control over the experience. Panera announced a month ago that it had struck deals with DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats to have those services transport meals that had been ordered through Panera’s proprietary app.

Red Robin has indicated that it is pursuing a similar arrangement with at least one third-party service.

Bloomin’s move underscores how chains’ strategies for tapping the delivery boom are rapidly evolving. McDonald’s, for instance, had originally partnered with Uber Eats to provide delivery. In August, it announced a deal that added DoorDash as an option for customers, and a few weeks later it entered into an arrangement with Grubhub.

To kick off the new arrangement with DoorDash, Outback is inviting customers to add on a free 6-ounce center-cut sirloin and side with every DoorDash order of $20 or more.

In addition to Outback, Carrabba’s and Bonefish Grill, Bloomin’ owns and operates Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Its portfolio extends to about 1,450 full-service restaurants in 48 states and 20 countries.

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