Longhorn Steakhouse Is Skyrocketing in Popularity—Here's Why
America has no shortage of great steakhouse chains, from the Australian-themed Outback Steakhouses to the peanut-riddled Texas Roadhouses. However, more and more Americans seem to be turning to LongHorn Steakhouse lately to satisfy their cravings for grilled beef, as demonstrated by the chain's stellar performance in the last several months.
The casual steakhouse, which is under the umbrella of parent company Darden Restaurants, topped analyst estimates with a sizable 7.1% increase in same-store sales in the most recent quarter that ended on May 28. This is even higher than Darden's overall 4% increase in same-store sales, as well as the 4.4% increase reported for fellow Darden brand Olive Garden.
The reason behind Longhorn's particularly successful quarter? During a June 22 earnings call, Darden's president and CEO Rick Cardenas said that there wasn't one "silver bullet," or a sole reason that could explain LongHorn's performance. Still, he offered up several potential factors that may have come into play.
For starters, he conceded that some price increases helped drive those strong sales for the quarter. This is far from uncommon in the restaurant industry, where many companies have been upping menu prices in order to offset elevated costs for food, labor, and other commodities. In March this year, Darden CFO Raj Vennam estimated that the company's total price increases for its 2023 fiscal year would fall around 6% of 6.5%, according to Restaurant Dive.
However, these price increases don't seem to be the whole story behind LongHorn's recent surge in sales. Cardenas said that guest traffic has also been "positive" at the chain, with one major highlight from the latest quarter being when the brand broke its weekly sales record during the week of Mother's Day. Additionally, Cardenas touted the performance of LongHorn Steakhouse's president Todd Burrowes, noting that Burrowes and his team have been on a "journey" to promote quality, simplicity, and culture at the chain.
"LongHorn has been executing well for the last few years and I want to commend Todd and his team," he said.
Great execution at any restaurant, whether regarding the quality of service or the actual food, can lead to happier guests who may be more motivated to come back again in the future. Earlier in the call, Cardenas noted that "internal guest satisfaction metrics remain at or near all-time highs across our brands."
"There aren't silver bullets here. It's about having great execution, investing in your team, investing in your product to drive profitable, same-restaurant sales growth, and that's what they've been doing," he said in reference to LongHorn's leadership.
While LongHorn outshined other Darden brands in the most recent quarter, it will be measured against another popular steakhouse chain moving forward, Ruth's Chris Steak House, which Darden just acquired earlier this month.