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6 Major Changes You'll See at Outback Steakhouse This Year

The chain behind the Bloomin' Onion plans to evolve quite a bit this year.

Outback Steakhouse may be Aussie-themed, but there's no denying that it's an institution in the world of American casual dining. Outback is the largest steakhouse chain in America by location count (688 company-owned and franchised restaurants, as of Dec. 31, 2023) and the second-largest by sales—trailing only its massively popular rival Texas Roadhouse, according to the latest data from the research firm Technomic.

In addition to its seasoned steaks, complimentary brown bread, and Kookaburra Wings, Outback is also the brand behind perhaps one of the most famous chain restaurant dishes of all time: the Bloomin' Onion.

But even the most established of restaurant chains may need to evolve to maintain its status. And this year, Outback is rolling out several major changes that are aimed at keeping its brand relevant and strong. Think menu innovations, customer experience enhancements, expansion, and tactical restaurant closures aimed at keeping the overall business healthy. Some of these changes and improvements are especially paramount after Outback ended 2023 with a somewhat difficult quarter, reporting a 0.3% drop in same-store sales.

Here are the six major changes every Outback Steakhouse fan should watch out for this year.

Rapid expansion

Opening soon sign

Before the end of 2024, more than a dozen communities will boast a brand-new Outback Steakhouse. During a February earnings call, parent company Bloomin' Brands announced that it plans to nearly triple the number of Outback openings in the United States this year compared to 2023. Since six new Outback locations opened in America throughout 2023, this means that up to 18 additional restaurants will debut in the country this year.

Bloomin' Brands plans to open 40 to 45 new locations in total this year across all of its restaurant chains, which further include Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in addition to Outback.

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New food and drink options

Steak & lobster, served with a stuffed potato and green beans, at Outback Steakhouse
Outback Steakhouse – National/Facebook
Outback Center Cut Sirloin (6 oz.) + Lobster Tail (4 oz.)
Calories: 780
Fat: 50 g (Saturated Fat: 22 g, Trans Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 1,910 mg
Carbs: 5 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 76 g

Outback Steakhouse isn't just expanding its physical footprint in 2024. It's also expanding its food and beverage offerings.

The steakhouse chain just brought back its fan-favorite Steak & Lobster pairing on April 3, according to a press release shared with Eat This, Not That! The meal starts at $19.99 and includes a 6-ounce center-cut sirloin, steamed lobster tail, and two sides. The returning surf and turf offering will only be available through May 7, so fans looking to score a plate shouldn't wait too long before heading over to their local Outback.

Participating Outback restaurants will also offer a limited-time menu in honor of Mother's Day from May 8 through May 12. The food selection will include three brand-new items: a Filet topped with Roasted Garlic Shrimp, a Filet with Aussie Cab Onion & Seasoned Butter, and a Mum's Peach Bellini.

New menu innovations are far from rare at Outback, so fans should keep their eyes peeled for other new foods and beverages at the chain throughout 2024.

Restaurant closures

Restaurant closures sign

Though Outback Steakhouse openings in the United States will accelerate this year, customers will also see some locations close their doors forever. Bloomin' Brands revealed during the February earnings call that it planned to shutter 41 underperforming restaurants across all of its brands.

"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," Bloomin' CEO David Deno said.

Most of the closing restaurants were Outback locations, though CFO Chris Meyer noted that a "handful" of the closures would impact the company's other chains. A Bloomin' representative previously confirmed to Nation's Restaurant News that 33 of the locations closed on Feb. 23, while several other closures had been completed before then.

 I Tried Every Steak at Outback Steakhouse & There Was One Clear Winner

Ramped up marketing

Outback Steakhouse logo on phone
rafapress / Shutterstock

In 2023, Bloomin' Brands spent more on marketing Outback to help it stay relevant in the competitive restaurant industry. Deno said during the February earnings call that the company saw a "positive response" to that additional spending. So this year, the company will increase its Outback marketing spending even more by about $20 million. 

Consumers should expect to see this ramped-up advertising on television and other digital channels, highlighting Outback's value, prices, and "innovation," Deno said. 

Improved food and service

Outback Steakhouse food spread
Outback Steakhouse – National / Facebook

Because Bloomin' Brands plans to spend approximately $20 million more on marketing Outback this year to drive more traffic, the company also wants to make sure Outback's restaurant operations are the "best-in-class," Deno said during the February earnings call.

As a result, the chain is making several changes aimed at ensuring the service is stellar and the food is consistently good, such as installing new ovens and grills and equipping serves with handheld tablets. These efforts are already underway, and Deno said they're already resulting in positive outcomes.

"As a result of this work, our internal customer measures have meaningfully improved," he said.

 I Tried Every Bloomin' Onion Spin-Off at Outback & the Best One Was Better Than Steak

Remodels and relocations

Newly opened Outback Steakhouse
Lynn Watson / Shutterstock

Bloomin' Brands has been working diligently to improve the Outback customer experience by remodeling its existing restaurants to give them a refreshed look. The company said in February it completed more than 100 remodels in 2023 and will "continue to work our way through the system in 2024."

Additionally, Bloomin' has been relocating other restaurants and plans to complete around five additional relocations in 2024, Meyer said. These relocations have proven to be a lucrative alternative for Bloomin' Brands, resulting in "significant" boosts in sales, Meyer added.

"I think that the relocation and what we see when we do a relocation is one of the reasons why we really believe in the relevance and the strength of the Outback brand. Because every time we do that, we see such positive results," he said.

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