Contrary to popular opinion (as expressed on Marketwatch on Wednesday), not all restaurateurs are the same. More importantly, not all restaurateurs are losing customers whose wallets have been sucked dry by high gas prices. Outback Steakhouse
Marketwatch correctly pointed out the flagging fortunes of a whole row of restaurants, in a column titled "Roadside restaurants suffer from gas." (Clever title, by the way.) The story noted how Applebee's
But as my Foolish colleague W.D. Crotty highlighted earlier this week, not all restaurateurs create profits equally. Benihana turned in a sterling quarter, sporting a 13% year-over-year increase in sales, plus profits that topped Wall Street's $0.36 per share estimate by more than a nickel.
Similarly, today we saw Outback chime in with its own good news to waft away the gas-fume gloom. In its monthly update on same-store sales developments, Outback noted that its eponymous brand saw August same-store sales decline -- but by just a tenth of one percent.
More importantly, Outback's satellite brands saw excellent growth. Carrabba's Italian Grill grew same-store sales by 8.1%, Bonefish Grill expanded 9.6%, Roy's increased 12.1%, and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar jumped an impressive 16%, all year over year.
What's perhaps most noteworthy in Outback's announcement is that, of the four chains that grew sales, three are entirely company-owned. Only Bonefish Grill (along with the Outback brand itself) uses a franchise model to supplement its 77 company-owned shops. It just goes to show that, even if "the trend is [not] your friend," good management can still save the day.
Can Outback buck the trend long-term? Check out its past performance and decide for yourself:
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.