Operations

Outback tries a fast-casual spinoff

Aussie Grill by Outback will feature sandwiches.
aussie grill

The first domestic unit of a new fast-casual sandwich concept from Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands—Aussie Grill by Outback—is scheduled to open in Tampa, Fla., next month.

Two units were opened outside of the United States in January. The venture was conceived primarily as an international growth vehicle, but “We will open some locations in the Tampa market to monitor and fine-tune the concept as needed,” a spokeswoman for Bloomin’ said in an email to Restaurant Business

Among the unique operational features of Aussie Grill will be a four-day workweek for its general manager. That nontraditional schedule is mentioned in the concept's ad for a GM on LinkedIn.

“The fast-casual service model allows franchisees to operate in a smaller footprint, with lower investment while still serving high-quality food,” she wrote.

Last year, Bloomin’ opened a few express-style units that offered a combined menu of specialties from Outback and its sister concept, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, but only for takeout, delivery and catering orders. Several Outback Steakhouse-Carrabba's Italian Grill Express units are currently in operation in the United States, but the company has not revealed any plans for widespread development, domestically or internationally. 

Decades ago, when Bloomin’ was known as OSI Restaurant Partners, the company alerted the financial community that it intended to develop a fast casual-style concept, but subsequently abandoned the idea. 

The casual giant is the latest major player in that segment to plot an entry into the fast-casual market. The Cheesecake Factory recently opened a fast-casual Asian concept, Social Monk Asian Kitchen, and Applebee’s parent Dine Brands Global has aired plans to acquire a midsized regional operation. 

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