Why Some Casual Dining Chains Are Testing Delivery-Only Restaurants

Why Some Casual Dining Chains Are Testing Delivery-Only Restaurants

Restaurant chains like Outback Steakhouse and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers are turning some locations into “restaurant pods,” or kitchens dedicated to create order for delivery only.

Red Robin’s vice president of innovation, Jason Rusk, cites increasing labor costs as the main reason behind the move. The casual dining chain currently has one location in Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue that has been converted into a commissary to test out the delivery-only facility concept.

“Labor costs across the country are going up, and that’s clearly putting pressure on all restaurants… Ideally, we’d like to go into low-rent warehouse spaces with our delivery concept,” Rusk told the “New York Post.”

Bloomin’ Brands, owner of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill, opened its second delivery-only restaurant in Florida this month offering a combined menu of the two restaurant concepts. The company plans to open three more delivery-only restaurants in the same state by early 2018.

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Is Casual Dining Over?

Is Casual Dining Over?
  • What's the future for brands like Applebee's and Chili's? 

  • Are millennials killing the casual dining industry? 

On this episode of Plugged In, Paul Barron looks at millennial social restaurant visit traffic (SRVs) in casual dining, as a predictor of the decline in casual dining sales. Foodable Labs has tracked a decline in millennial SRVs across the board in traditional casual dining establishments. The new millennial consumers seem to no longer resonate with legacy brands like Applebees and Chili's. 

However, traffic is up in new age casual dining at places like Matchbox and Coopers Hawk.  All is not lost, even with expansion halted and stores closing, there is a recipe for resurrecting these legacy casual dining brands. Watch Plugged In for more!

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Emerging Summer Menus: How Brands are Appealing to Consumers this Season

Emerging Summer Menus: How Brands are Appealing to Consumers this Season

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The development of a menu relies on a few factors, including the ingredients available that season, current consumer trends and the brand or restaurant’s creativity.

According to the National Restaurant Association, locally sourced meats and seafood and house-made/artisan soft drinks are at the top of the 2016 food trends list.

So, how are brands in all segments incorporating these type of items? And what are they emphasizing this summer?

Summer brings so much more than sunny rays, it also brings a slump in restaurant sales. This is frequently the hardest season for industry.

Nonetheless, restaurants are coming up with clever ways to bring their customers into their stores. This often includes introducing new menu items that channel the spirit of the season.

With fan-favorite fruits, refreshing cocktails and over-the-top food items, let’s take a look at what restaurant brands are bringing to the table this summer.

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Outback Steakhouse Introduces the “Big Australia” Menu

Outback Steakhouse Introduces the “Big Australia” Menu

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

For a limited time, the Aussie-themed casual dining chain Outback Steakhouse will be offering the “Big Australia” menu.

Until August 2nd, guests will be able to order off of the menu featuring super-sized portions of the fan-favorite appetizers, along with some brand new dishes. 

"With the new Big Australia menu, we're excited to introduce delicious, generous-sized dishes that reflect the spirit of the 'Bloomin' Big' Australian Dinner Parties taking place at Outbacks nationwide," said Jeff Smith, Outback Steakhouse president in a press release. 

The most notable appetizer getting quite a bit of buzz from foodie-focused media is the Loaded Bloom. This beast of an appetizer is the brand’s beloved Bloomin’ Onion topped with the Aussie Cheese Fries, which is another popular appetizer by the brand. 

Some of the other items available on the limited time menu include the New Béarnaise Jumbo Shrimp Topped Filet, which is a Victoria’s Filet Mignon “topped with four jumbo shrimp and a Béarnaise sauce, served with a signature potato and choice of one freshly made side” and another seafood-focused dish is the New Giant Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail, a loaded crab cake stuffed in a jumbo lobster tail, topped with Hollandaise sauce. It wouldn’t be right for a steakhouse chain to not include a big juicy steak on super-sized menu like this, so an 18 oz. Center Cut Sirloin is also a “Big Australia” item.

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