This chain of sleepy Italian restaurants is making a comeback – Eat This Not That

Many regional and national restaurant chains have suffered huge losses over 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 dishes centered on pasta, seafood and steak, is one of them. The chain, which reported decrease of sales since 2015, has seen strong growth in several key business areas in 2021. Delivery and takeout orders, along with a booming restaurant business, have been a game-changer for the sleepy Italian chain, according to its latest earnings report.

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Evidence of the chain’s recent ascent can be found in sales figures for its last fiscal quarter ending December 27. Carrabba’s same-store sales jumped 10.3%, and more than a third of those transactions were made through off-site orders. When it comes to restaurants, the growth is even more staggering: since 2019, the chain has increased these sales by 46%.

“[The catering business] is a part 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’d say it’s a great company, but it might not be where we are today. . . We’ve got a whole new business here that we’ve never had before.”

Bloomin’ Brands, which operates other major brands like Outback Steakhouse, Fleming’s and Bonefish Grill, is enjoying major success overall. It reported revenue of about $1.05 billion in the fourth quarter, a 29% increase from a year earlier. That shattered Wall Street forecasts, meaning things could continue to improve as 2022 unfolds. As icing on the cake (or should we say parmesan cheese on top?), Bloomin’ was also able to adjust its restaurant-level operating margins from 12.4% to 16.5% last year, according to The Motley Fool.

The next challenge for Bloomin’ is to maintain momentum.

About Vivian J. Smith

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