LongHorn Steakhouse debuted a new menu and advertising campaign Monday, both of which focus on what makes LongHorn different from other steakhouses and casual-dining brands.
“We saw the need to differentiate ourselves,” said John Fadool, executive vice president of marketing at Orlando-based LongHorn, which is owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. “We’re redefining a new way of communicating that has more attitude.”
Two TV spots, both of which debut Monday night, feature auto racers and new menu offerings, including a cheddar-and-bacon stuffed filet and a lobster-stuffed filet, topped with a half tail of lobster. The brand’s new tagline in each of the 30- and 15-second spots is: “You Can’t Fake Steak.”
In one ad, a male voice says, “LongHorn Steakhouse knows after the checkered flag, these guys didn’t go eat quiche,” along with images of an auto racer celebrating with champagne after speeding across the finish line.
The core menu revamp, Fadool said, is among the most extensive in the brand’s history. New menu items include a 30-ounce Porterhouse for two, which comes with two salads, two sides and steak sauce prepared tableside for $39.99, and the Rancher’s Sirloin, which comes topped with a sunny-side-up egg and bacon, he said. The Rancher’s Sirloin is priced between $13.49 and $18.99, depending on the size of the steak.
“There is nothing in the causal dining arena like this today,” Fadool said. “They’re distinctive dishes you can’t get anywhere else.”
The new menu also includes a Flavorful Under 500 section, which offers guests an entrée, side and salad for fewer than 500 calories in total. Items in the lighter options menu portion include the Napa Grilled Chicken for $12.99, which is comprised of chicken breasts topped with artichokes, portabella mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and a lemon butter sauce.
Along with the new menu items, the menu itself has been redesigned to include a “steak selection panel,” which aims to help guests pick the steak that’s best for them. The panel lists seven types of available steaks — sirloin, filet, flat iron, strip steak, T-bone, porterhouse, and ribeye — and steak sauces, and describes the ways they can be served, from rare to well done. “We found that that’s an area of potential confusion for our guests,” Fadool said.
Two of Darden Restaurants Inc.’s other brands, Olive Garden and Red Lobster, are also undergoing menu changes and rebranding. Red Lobster’s new menu, which features many non-seafood items and more items priced below $15, also debuted Monday.
For the latest quarter, Olive Garden’s total sales rose 4.3 percent, and Red Lobster saw its total sales drop 2.1 percent. LongHorn Steakhouse reported a bump in total sales of 12.7 percent, and a same-store sales increase of 3.6 percent.
LongHorn currently operates 390 locations in 36 states.