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Bloomin’ Brands plans fast-casual Aussie Grill in Florida

Outback parent plots importing existing brand to food court site

Bloomin’ Brands Inc. in April expects to open the first U.S. unit of Aussie Grill, a fast-casual food-court version of its casual-dining Outback Steakhouse in Tampa, Fla., a company spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.

“Aussie Grill by Outback was developed primarily for international growth,” said Elizabeth Watts, a spokesperson for the Tampa-based Bloomin’ Brands. “The fast-casual service model allows franchisees to operate in a smaller footprint, with lower investment while still serving high-quality food.”

The proposed Aussie Grill site is in Tampa’s International Plaza, a food-court location previously occupied by Johnny Rockets. Construction filings with city indicate the space is 687 square feet, The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported.

Watts said the company plans to “open some locations in the Tampa market to monitor and fine-tune the concept as needed.”

Aussie Grill’s menu focuses on sandwiches, she said.

“We opened the first two Aussie Grills in January — one franchise in Saudi Arabia and one company owned in Hong Kong,” Watts added.

The business journal said construction documents filed with the city pegged building costs at about $75,000.

Bloomin’ Brands has a portfolio of casual-dining, full-service restaurants, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

Bloomin’ also has five combination Outback-Carrabba’s express units for delivery and takeout only, a hybrid concept the company first debuted in 2017.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 30, Bloomin’ Brands net income was down 8.7 percent to $10.9 million, or 12 cents a share, from $12 million, or 13 cents a share, in the same period last year, which included one additional week that fell between the busy Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Revenues were down 5.9 percent to $1 billion compared to $1.1 billion in the prior-year period.

Combined same-store sales for the Bloomin’ Brands domestic portfolio were up 1.6 percent in the quarter. Same-store sales were up 2.9 percent at Outback, up 0.8 percent at Carrabba’s, down 1.1 percent at Bonefish and down 0.4 percent at Fleming’s.

As of Dec. 30, Bloomin’ Brands owned and franchised 1,490 restaurants. It has 1,232 domestic restaurants, including 733 Outback Steakhouses, 227 Carrabba’s, 197 Bonefish Grills, 70 Fleming’s and five other units.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

TAGS: Operations
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