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CEO of Bloomin' Brands David Deno speaks about how Outback Grill and Aussie Grille were able to bounce back from initial coronavirus sales slumps on this week's episode of Extra Serving.

Bloomin’ CEO David Deno talks about keeping workers on payroll during coronavirus lockdowns

Outback Steakhouse parent says avoiding furloughs and layoffs helped sales bounce back when capacity returned

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Bloomin’ Brand Inc. during the height of coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions made the decision to maintain its payrolls and not furlough or lay off workers amid the numerous lockdowns.

David Deno, CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Bloomin’ Brands, said the decision paid off in helping sales normalize when restaurant dining rooms were allowed to open some of their dining rooms.

“When this first happened in mid-March, we wanted to do two things. One, we wanted to take care of our employees. And two, we wanted to serve great food in a safe environment — either in the restaurant or in peoples’ homes.”

Because of state and local coronavirus restrictions, that soon became exclusively off-premise Bloomin’s brands, which include Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and the newer stand-alone, drive-thru Aussie Grill by Outback.

“We knew that if we could retain our people and pay them, even if they weren’t working, and not let them go, it would improve employee engagement [and] that would enable us to bring people back right away when the restaurants reopened,” Deno said. “We wouldn’t have to recruit people. And we wouldn’t have to train people. That is exactly what happened.”

 On this Nation’s Restaurant News Extra Serving podcast, Deno also talks about the timely opening of the first stand-alone, drive-thru Aussie Grill by Outback in May.

Learn more by listening to our latest Extra Serving podcast.

NRN Top 200: Bloomin’ Brands’ Outback Steakhouse was No. 30 in among chains in U.S. systemwide sales in the most recent rankings, generating $2.6 billion in domestic sales.

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