Darden Restaurants Inc. is building the first airport location of its Bahama Breeze Island Grille brand.
The Orlando, Fla.-based company, which also owns the more widespread Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen concepts, is constructing the first airport version of the Caribbean-style concept in the Orlando International Airport’s Terminal B.
“Bahama Breeze is delighted to bring a taste of the islands to Orlando airport,” said Kristin Colville, spokesman for the Darden division, in an email. “The location of this newest outpost requires unique operating capabilities, so we’re partnering with HMS Host, one of the leading airport food service operators.”
Darden has worked with HMS Host and Hojeij Branded Foods for franchised U.S. airport units of its LongHorn brand.
Orlando’s airport was the busiest in the state of Florida in 2017, growing 6.4 percent over the prior year and accommodating 44.6 million passengers, OIA officials said.
The addition of Bahama Breeze is part of the Orlando airport’s efforts to upgrade its food and beverage section, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday.
While Bahama Breeze remains the second smallest of Darden’s concepts, at 39 units as of Nov. 26, it has been growing slowly. It added three units in the past year, including a smaller, 8,000-square-foot version that opened last May in Kissimmee, Fla.
Bahama Breeze units have traditionally been larger, clocking in at about 10,700 square feet and 360 seats.
Darden first launched Bahama Breeze in 1996 and grew it to 22 units by 2002. After remaining stable at between 23 and 26 units, the division began to expand again in 2012. Bahama Breeze had 39 restaurants at the end of Darden’s second quarter on Nov. 26, putting it right behind Darden’s 42-unit Seasons 52 at and ahead of the 19-unit Eddie V’s.
The full-service Bahama Breeze concept is designed as a Caribbean escape, with food, drinks and atmosphere found in the islands.
Most lunch and dinner menu entrée prices at Bahama Breeze range from $7.50 to $30. In fiscal 2017, the average Bahama Breeze check was $28.50 per person with alcoholic beverages account for 23.8 percent of the brand’s sales.
For the second quarter, Bahama Breeze’s same-store sales were up 2.5 percent.
Darden’s profit in the quarter increased 6.5 percent to $84.7 million, or 67 cents a share, up from $79.5 million, or 64 cents a share, in the same period last year. Darden’s second-quarter sales were up 14.6 percent to $1.88 billion from $1.642 billion in the prior-year period.
The company is set to release third-quarter earnings before the market opens Thursday morning.
Darden has more than 1,700 casual-dining restaurants, including Yard House and The Capital Grille.
Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless