Outback parent company announces dozens of restaurant closures as threat of restaurant recession looms


Bloomin' Brands, the parent company of the Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming's Steakhouse chains, announced plans to close multiple restaurants.

Last week, the company said it would close 43 underperforming restaurants in a presentation to investors announcing a loss of $4.3 million in the fourth quarter. Overall, profit in 2016 dropped to $41.7 million from $127.3 in 2015.

Bloomin' Brands is suffering from an industry-wide slowdown, that many analysts fear could be the beginning of a restaurant recession.

According to food business publication FSR Magazine, only 34% of casual-dining brands recorded by the industry tracker TDn2K had positive comparable restaurant sales in the third quarter of 2016.

Ruby Tuesday closed 95 locations last year. Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee's are also struggling.

There are two main factors to blame for the casual dining industry's problems: the rise of fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and Panera, and the fact that more people eating at home due to cheaper grocery prices.

According to The Washington Post, the fast-casual industry grew by 550% from 1999 to 2014. It is expected to reach $66.9 billion by 2020, said market-research company Technavio.

While Bloomin' Brands didn't specify which of its 1,500 restaurants would be shuttered, Consumerist confirmed that the following locations have already closed:

Frederick, MD: Carrabba's

Naperville, IL: Carrabba's

Columbia, SC: Carrabba's

Natick, MA: Outback Steakhouse

Rochester Hills, MI: Outback Steakhouse

In New Jersey, one Bonefish Grill, three Carrabba's, and one Outback restaurant have closed. In Connecticut, two Bonefish Grill and one Carrabba's have closed.

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