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Customers Are Flocking to Outback & Applebee's Despite Store Closures

New data indicates Applebee's and Outback are bringing more and more guests into their restaurants.

Outback Steakhouse and Applebee's got off to somewhat of a rough start in 2024 as both announced plans to shutter dozens of struggling restaurants this year. However, new data indicates that customers are flocking to these casual dining chains despite the closures. 

Outback Steakhouse saw a 1.9% increase in customer visits in March 2024 compared to March 2023, Restaurant Business Magazine reported, citing data from the foot traffic researcher Meanwhile, Applebee's customer traffic jumped by 3.8% in March compared to the prior year. 

RELATED: 7 Restaurant Chains That Are Struggling in 2024

These statistics might come as a surprise to some given the recent spate of closures at both chains. Outback's parent company Bloomin' Brands, for example, announced during a February earnings call that they planned to shutter 41 underperforming restaurants across all of its brands. 

While Bloomin' also operates Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, the company said most of the closures would affect Outback restaurants.  A Bloomin' representative previously told Nation's Restaurant News that 33 of the closing locations stopped serving guests on Feb. 23, while several other closures had been completed before then.

"The majority of these restaurants were older assets with leases from the 90s and early 2000s. This decision considered a variety of factors, including sales and traffic, trade areas, and the investments that would have to be made to improve the restaurants," said Bloomin' CEO David Deno.

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Meanwhile, Applebee's executives announced during a late February earnings call that they expect to end 2024 with 25 to 35 fewer locations than they had at the start of the year. The restaurants slated for closure are located in trade areas (the geographic area from which a company draws most of its business) where they're struggling to perform well, Applebee's President Tony Moralejo said at the time. Applebee's has already closed hundreds of locations since 2017—including dozens just in 2023—to boot underperforming restaurants from its system. 

 10 Restaurant Chains Closing Locations In 2024

Applebee's parent company Dine Brands said in February that getting the chain back to growth mode is a top priority. Bloomin' Brands is also looking to grow Outback's footprint this year, with plans to open close to 18 new restaurants in the United States alone. The new data indicates that more and more customers are visiting the two chains in the meantime, putting them in a good position to expand. 

An increase in value-friendly options at both chains may be playing a role in their higher guest counts. Outback recently brought back its fan-favorite Steak & Lobster pairing for $19.99 through May 7, while Applebee's has rolled out several enticing promotions since the start of the year, including a 50-cent boneless wings deal in March.

Outback Steakhouse and Applebee's aren't the only chains seeing customers flock to their restaurants in droves lately. The beloved steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse reported a 5.1% increase in customer traffic in the fourth quarter of 2023, while Olive Garden saw traffic increases in all but one quarter last year, according to data.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe