Skip to content

This Sleepy Italian Restaurant Chain Is Making a Huge Comeback

Takeout, delivery, and catering sales have blossomed during the pandemic.

Many regional and national restaurant chains faced huge losses in the past two years, but a lucky few have managed to make the COVID-19 pandemic work in their favor—and have made surprising leaps and comebacks.

Carrabba's Italian Grill, known for serving Italian fare centered around pasta, seafood, and steak, is one of them. The chain, which had been reporting declining sales since 2015, has seen major growth in several key areas of business in 2021. According to its latest earnings report, delivery and takeout orders, as well as a newly booming catering business, have turned things around for the sleepy Italian chain.

For more fast-food news, check out 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.

Proof of the chain's recent ascent is in the sales numbers from its most recent fiscal quarter ended December 27. Carrabba's same-store sales jumped by 10.3%, and more than a third of those transactions came via off-premise orders. When it comes to catering, the growth is even more staggering—since 2019, the chain grew those sales by 46%.

"[The catering business] is a piece of our portfolio that is now an opportunity," said Dave Deno, CEO of parent company Bloomin' Brands. "If you talked to us two years ago, we would say it's a great business, but it may not be the place that we are today . . . We've got a whole new business here that we never had before."

Bloomin' Brands, which operates other major brands like Outback Steakhouse, Fleming's, and Bonefish Grill, is seeing major success overall. It reported revenues of around $1.05 billion in the fourth quarter, an increase of 29% percent from the year prior. This smashed Wall Street predictions, which means that things may continue to improve as 2022 plays out. As the cherry on top (or should we say the parmesan on top?) Bloomin' was also able to adjust its restaurant-level operating margins from 12.4% to 16.5% in the last year, according to The Motley Fool.

The next challenge for Bloomin' is to keep the momentum going.

Ashley Uzer
Ashley Uzer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer that focuses on food, relationships, and wellness. Read more about Ashley