Outback Steakhouse

The Outback parent has shifted to takeout and to-go, like scores of other restaurant chains.

Bloomin’ Brands CEO Forgoes Salary to Aid Employees

Texas Roadhouse and Darden made like-minded moves.

Bloomin’ Brands CEO David Deno joined the rank of restaurant executives electing to forgo their salaries in an effort to help frontline workers, the casual-dining company revealed Friday in a securities filing.

Bloomin’, the parent group behind Outback Steakhouse, Fleming’s, Carrabba’s, and Bonefish Grill, said Deno gave up “all base salary in excess of the amount necessary to cover his required contributions to his employee benefits and related payroll taxes from the pay period beginning April 6 and continuing until further determination …”

Bloomin’s board of directors also agreed to forgo any cash retainer, effective immediately and continuing until further notice “in light of the uncertainty and adverse business impacts of the COVID-19” pandemic.


Deno, the company’s former EVP and chief financial and administrative officer, was appointed CEO in March 2019. He stepped in for Liz Smith, who had been with the company since 2009. Smith originally shifted to a role as executive chairman of Bloomin’s board but stepped down in February as part of a restructuring of leadership.

Deno joined Bloomin’ in 2012. He previously served as the president of Best Buy’s Asia division and CFO for Best Buy International. His career includes stops at PepsiCo/YUM! Brands and eight years at Burger King.

Deno entered into an amended and restated officer employment agreement with Bloomin’ on April 1, 2019, for a five-year term with optional one-year renewals, under which his base salary would be $900,000. Additionally, Deno’s annual target bonus would be 150 percent of base salary (prorated effective April 1, 2019), and he received a one-time equity award having an aggregate target grant date fair market value of $5 million. Beginning in 2020, the target value of his annual equity award under this plan would be four times Deno’s base salary.

Bloomin’ said March 20 it had a cash position of more than $00 million after drawing down substantiality all of its revolving credit facility—a move intended to provide additional financial flexibility as COVID-19 impacts ramped up. “In addition to expanding our growing carry-out and delivery business, we have taken actions to tightly manage costs in this new environment,” Chris Meyer, CFO of Bloomin’, said at the time. “These actions, combined with our strong cash reserves, address near-term volatility under current market conditions.”

Bloomin’ directs 1,450 restaurants in 48 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and 21 countries.

Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor, Darden leader Gene Lee, and Yum! Brands executive David Gibbs are among the restaurant CEOs to have taken similar action in recent weeks.