Elizabeth Smith, executive board chair of Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands Inc., has been named to the 2019 class of Golden Chain Award winners, recognizing her more than 10 years as leader of the portfolio casual-dining company.
Smith led the Tampa, Fla.-based company, which also owns Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, since November 2009.
Under her leadership, Bloomin’ met the challenges of the growing off-premise market, introduced a cross-brand hybrid Outback-Carrabba’s format for takeout and delivery, amped up digital offerings and created a cross-platform loyalty program. See the accompanying gallery for details on some Bloomin’s major initiatives.
“Nation’s Restaurant News is pleased to honor Liz Smith with the Golden Chain Award. Her work at Bloomin’ Brands has led trends across the casual-dining space and the restaurant industry as a whole,” said Jenna Telesca, NRN editor-in-chief.
Smith on April 1 stepped down as CEO, retaining the board chair role, and was succeeded by David Deno, Bloomin’s chief financial and administrative officer.
The annual Golden Chain Awards celebrate the best in the restaurant industry — those who are running industry-leading operations, mentoring top teams and creating opportunities for others.
The 2019 award winners will be celebrated during a gala at Nation’s Restaurant News’ Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators conference, scheduled for Oct. 14-16 in Denver. The winners will also participate in a leading CEO panel at the event.
“Liz joined the company in 2009, when the casual-dining segment was facing unprecedented headwinds, and the brands needed a refresh,” said Jim Craigie, Bloomin’s lead independent director, in a statement that announced her move to executive board chairman. “Under her excellent leadership, the portfolio has transformed with strong brands and new and sustainable platforms for growth.”
Craigie added that Smith’s “customer-centric approach has been instrumental in pioneering direct delivery from a full-service chain and creating the first multi-branded restaurant loyalty program.”
Prior to Bloomin’, Smith spent nearly 30 years growing brands in consumer-facing industries, including serving as president of Avon Products Inc. and several roles at Kraft Foods Inc., including president of the U.S. beverages and grocery sectors.
For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 30, 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. Same-store sales were up 2.4 percent at the Brazil Outback division, the company reported.
For fiscal 2018, ended Dec. 30, Bloomin’ Brands reported $4.1 billion in revenues and $107.1 million in net income. 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.
In addition to her Bloomin’ board role, Smith serves as a director for Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa. Smith in January was named to NRN’s 2019 Power List.
To attend MUFSO and the award gala register at www.mufso.com.
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