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Bloomin-Outback-Steakhouse.jpg Bloomin' Brands Inc.
Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin' Brands inc. is updating technology both for servers and in ktichen.

Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands leans into technology to improve quality, pacing

Restaurant company’s CEO David Deno sees consumer ‘hanging in there’ as company advances server and kitchen equipment

With the consumer “hanging in there” and showing little change in dining-out behaviors, the restaurants in Bloomin’ Brands Inc.’s portfolio were leaning into technology and off-premises to maintain sales in the first half of year, executives said Tuesday.

The Tampa, Fla.-based parent to such brands as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Flemings’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar released its earnings for the second quarter ended June 25, and David Deno, Bloomin’ Brands CEO, said the company was using technology to improve execution and consistency in the restaurants.

“Outback servers now use handheld technology, which allows them to spend more time with guests and deliver a differentiated guest experience,” Deno said. “Our new cooking technology in the back of the house, including advanced grills and ovens, is on track to be completely rolled out in the third quarter. Our guests will experience improved product quality and overall meal pacing.”

Deno said off-premises sales continued to help the overall businesses.

“Total off-premises was 24% of U.S. sales in Q2 and our third-party delivery business continues to perform well,” he said. “Importantly, off-premises profit margins are comparable to margins of the in-restaurant business. Catering continues to be a growing opportunity for our brands. The Carrabba's team is an industry leader in this space.” Carrabba’s recently introduced Carrabba's Bistro, which is a lunch-focus catering option, featuring variety of sandwiches.

“The consumer wants convenience,” Deno said. “And we've built our capital strategy around providing that convenience and our to-go rooms and our delivery rooms. And through our technology, we're continuing to make significant progress in our technology to ease ordering for our customers. … The customers either come in to eat or do carry out, but in delivery, especially third-party delivery, that's an incremental occasion, and we'll continue to invest heavily in that because that's a customer opportunity for us.”

Chris Meyer, Bloomin’ Brands’ chief financial officer, added, “Importantly, the highly incremental third-party delivery business remains healthy and was 12% of U.S. sales in Q2. In terms of brand performance, Outback total off-premises mix was 26% of sales, and Carrabba's was 33% of sales. Carrabba's already strong off-premises business has been supported by consistent growth in catering. Catering was over 5% of Carrabba’s sales in Q2. We are also seeing success in catering at our other brands and will continue to emphasize this sales layer across our portfolio moving forward.”

For the second quarter ended June 25, Bloomin’ Brand swung to a net income of $68.3 million, or 70 cents a share, from a loss of $63.6 million, or 72 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenues increased to $1.153 billion from $1.125 billion in the same quarter last year.

Bloomin’ Brands’ combined U.S. company-owned same-store sales were up 0.8% in the quarter. By brand: Outback Steakhouse, up 0.6%; Carrabba’s Italian Grill, up 3.5%; Bonefish Grill, up 0.5%; and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, down 2.5%. The international Outback Steakhouses in Brazil had a same-store sales increase of 4.1%.

Bloomin’ Brands Inc., which also owns Bonefish Grill and Aussie Grill, operates more than 1,450 restaurants in 47 states, Guam and 13 countries, some of which are franchised locations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X: @RonRuggless

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