Outback Steakhouse said Friday that all locations nationwide will open for lunchtime on weekends, with new menu items including 10 entrees for less than $10, and a $7.99 combo deal that includes a soup or salad and an entrée.
Restaurants will open at 11 a.m., a departure from the Outback’s typical opening much later in the day and a sole focus on dinner. In August 2011, about 50 Outback locations, fewer than 10 percent of the brand’s current 775 locations, were open for lunch as part of market tests.
“We’re excited to offer our guests delicious and affordable lunch options,” Mike Kappitt, Outback’s chief marketing officer said in a statement. “Our innovative, yet classic offerings will give customers an exceptional midday meal.”
The lunchtime offering will include the $7.99 Your Perfect Lunch Combo promotion, which comes with soup or salad and an entrée. Entrees offered in the new combo meal include Alice Springs Chicken Quesadillas, Half Chicken Artichoke Flatbread and the Outback Burger. As a complement to the lunchtime menu offerings, Outback is also promoting its Curbside Take-Away and online ordering for to-go lunches.
In the past, Tampa, Fla.-based Outback, which is owned by Bloomin’ Brands Inc. chose to stick with its 4 p.m. open, according to Leslie Kerr, president and founder of the Boston-based consultancy Intellaprice, who spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News in April on casual-dining lunch trends.
“Outback has experimented with lunch, but for the most part, [Bloomin’ Brands’] concepts stick to their traditional 4 p.m. opening times,” she said. “For operators who are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., it’s crucial to attract customers to make the early hours profitable and keep the whole day financially sound.”
Other casual-dining restaurant brands, including Olive Garden, Chili’s Grill & Bar and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, have also tried to expand into lunchtime offerings, with menu item prices ranging from about $7-$10. Lunchtime diners tend to be very price and time sensitive, Kerr said, more so than their dinner diner counterparts.
Outback executives could not be immediately reached for comment.