Where's the Beef? Multi-Location Steakhouses Moove Forward Ruth Chris

Where’s the Beef? Multi-Location Steakhouses Moove Forward

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Despite the popularity of plant-based meat alternatives, the steakhouse category is far from dead. This week, Olive Garden owner Darden dropped a sizzling $715M to buy the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse chain, comprising 150 locations and generating $505M last year. It joins multi-location steakhouses Eddie V’s (29 locations) and the Capital Grill (65 locations) in Darden’s beefy portfolio.

Although the “steak and martini” lunch of the Mad Men era is long past, we have clearly not completely abandoned meat for veggie burgers. However, steakhouses have diversified their menus to keep pace with consumer tastes, adding vegetarian and plant-based options to their fare.

Multi-location steakhouses at all price points are making other major changes to their footprints and options. Expansions into new regions don’t appear to have slowed. As in the restaurant industry, steakhouses face supply chain, cost issues, and labor shortages. But they continue to innovate with features like:

  • Robotic servers (KC Steakhouse)
  • Smaller portions and sharing options
  • Vegetarian and healthy alternatives
  • Take-out and delivery

Throughout the food industry, ensuring that online menus are kept up-to-date with alternative dining options (to attract those non-meat-eaters) and that reviews (favorable and not) are answered and optimized.

Do not forget the next generation of diners. Younger consumers enjoy the fine dining steakhouse experience as much as their parents and grandparents. Smart marketers will design campaigns that appeal to a broad market.

As business travel resumes post-pandemic, steakhouses remain a staple for entertaining clients and colleagues.

The premium steakhouse category has slightly decreased in revenue, but still comprises a whopping $7B.

Outback, Texas Roadhouse, and Longhorn lead the multi-location steakhouse herd, with about 2,000 combined locations. 

Not every steakhouse has survived the slaughterhouse, however. Many of you may remember these iconic brands of years past.

As Resy proclaimed in its ode to the steakhouse:

“They exist and will continue to exist because, whether it kills us or not, whether it dooms the planet or not, the urge to eat meat is so primal that altars to its consumption must be built.”

Dining trends come and go, but the ribeye seems to be here to stay, along with acquisitions and consolidations within the industry.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in Inc.com, the New York Times and Forbes.