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This Steakhouse Chain Is Exploding in Popularity

The company is seeing a major uptick in sales compared to 2019.

As the dining sector rebounds, one particular type of restaurant is seeing major demand: the steakhouse. America's largest steakhouse chain, Texas Roadhouse, recently reported soaring sales numbers in the first quarter of the year, while even smaller, higher-end steakhouse brands reported record sales this spring.

"The whole steakhouse segment is moving," said Gene Lee, CEO of Darden Restaurants, which also owns Olive Garden. "The segment has high value perceptions."

RELATED: These Two Upscale Steakhouse Chains Are Now Surging in Popularity

Darden's LongHorn Steakhouse has been one of the meat-centric brands to report record growth in sales in the last quarter. The chain, which boasts more than 500 nationwide locations, managed to surpass its 2019 same-store sales numbers by 13.5% in the quarter ended May 30, according to Restaurant Business.

While America's appetite for steak is clearly at a high point, Lee says the growth is also due to the fact that LongHorn Steakhouse beats competitors in several areas.

"[President Todd Burrowes] and his team have done a great job of improving the value perception," he said. "When we look at where they are in Technomic and the ratings, they are No. 1 in most categories. They moved from middle of the pack to No. 1. And so I think LongHorn's performance is just a culmination of a lot of work over a great period of time."

In 2020, LongHorn Steakhouse was named America's favorite full-service chain based on customer satisfaction, beating out Texas Roadhouse for the top spot. It serves a variety of popular fire-grilled steak cuts, with Flo's Filet topping the list of customer favorites. But LongHorn also has plenty of options in the chicken and seafood categories, as well as burgers and chicken sandwiches and salad entrées on the lunch menu.

And while diners are returning to restaurants, the steakhouse chain still saw strong off-premise sales in the latest quarter, amounting to 19% of its business. Lee admits the ongoing popularity of takeout and delivery orders took him by surprise, as people continue to supplement at-home meals with restaurant food.

"We know we've reached some new consumers here, and the experience is very, very good," he said of the chain's off-premise channels. "And so I think that we don't know where it's going to net out. It's going to net out a lot higher than it was pre-COVID, and I think it's something that's part of our business we will have to pay a lot more attention to as we move forward."

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more