One of the largest casual dining restaurant companies in the world is shutting down dozens of locations amid reports of a so-called “restaurant recession.”
Bloomin’ Brands, which has about 1,500 restaurants, owns Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.
40+ Outback, Carrabba’s & Bonefish locations closing
As we’ve reported, 2016 was a difficult year for casual restaurant chains like those in the Bloomin’ Brands portfolio.
‘Although 2016 was a challenging year for both Bloomin’ Brands and the industry, we made real progress on our strategy to reallocate spending away from discounting toward investments to strengthen brand health, ‘ said Liz Smith, Bloomin’ Brands CEO. ‘We are pleased with how our brands are performing so far in 2017, particularly at Outback where we believe our investments are beginning to gain traction.’
Despite optimism about the future, Bloomin’ Brands said it decided on February 15 to close 43 ‘underperforming’ restaurants, including Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill locations.
No list of the affected restaurants was released to the media, but we have compiled a partial list based on local news reports:
Carrabba’s in Montgomery
Outback Steakhouse in Chandler
Fleming’s in Beverly Hills
Bonefish Grill in Newington
Bonefish Grill in South Windsor
Carrabba’s in Manchester
Carrabba’s in Jacksonville
Carrabba’s in South Miami
Carrabba’s in Naperville
Bonefish Grill in Westwood
Carrabba’s in Tyngsboro
Outback Steakhouse in Framingham
Outback Steakhouse in Westborough
Carrabba’s in Kentwood
Carrabba’s in Grand Rapids
Outback Steakhouse in Rochester Hills
Bonefish Grill in St. Louis Park
Outback Steakhouse in Hazelwood
Bonefish Grill in Middletown
Carrabba’s in Egg Harbor Township
Carrabba’s in Evesham
Carrabba’s in Middletown
Outback Steakhouse in Lawrenceville
Bonefish Grill in Colonie
Carrabba’s in Charlotte
Outback Steakhouse in Morehead City
Carrabba’s in Columbia
Outback Steakhouse in Hilton Head
Outback Steakhouse in Houston (2 locations)
Bonefish Grill in Webster
Bonefish Grill in Katy
‘Closing a restaurant is never easy. It was a business decision and has no reflection on the employees or their service,’ a Bloomin’ Brands spokesperson told Clark.com. ‘We are giving all employees a severance package and are working to place them in our other restaurants.’
Expect more restaurant discounts in 2017
Clark says that all of this instability in the restaurant industry means that you need to keep an eye out for aggressive discounts, particularly at casual chains.
‘Even as the job market improves, consumers are looking for relatively low price points and the convenience to order online when they eat away from home,’ said Carla Norfleet Taylor with Fitch Ratings. ‘With persistent food price deflation, deal promotions will likely be a tactic restaurants use to get people in the door.’
At the end of 2016, Clark recommended that you think twice before buying a bunch of gift cards for restaurants that may suddenly shut down before the cards are able to be used.
With no major turnaround on the horizon for the restaurant industry, his advice stands for the year ahead.