Tender Shack is running out of Carrabba's in Tampa Bay.
Bloomin’ Brands has joined the virtual movement. The Outback Steakhouse parent recently launched a delivery-only brand through DoorDash—as category competitor Chili’s did in June—in its home market of Tampa Bay, Florida. And also like Chili’s and its wings concept, Bloomin’s virtual debut will focus on chicken.
Called “Tender Shack,” Bloomin’ activated the brand out of a Carrabba’s Italian Grill Thursday on the aggregator platform. According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Tender Shack will be delivered via DoorDash from Carrabba’s throughout the area. Bloomin’ directs Fleming’s and Bonefish as well.
"This is a test in the initial stages," Elizabeth Watts, Bloomin's director of media and community relations," said in an email to FSR. "We are optimistic about this new off-premises opportunity and excited to work with DoorDash, who has been a great strategic partner.
The menu includes combos, tenders, sandwiches, “party tenders,” signature sauces, fries and desserts, and drinks.
Some options include:
Nashville Hot AF Tender Sandwich: Crispy chicken tender sandwich on brioche bun with housemade pickles, shredded lettuce, and signature Tender Shack sauce ($8.99).
Dang Good Seasoned Tenders Combo: Five “Dang Good” seasoned crispy chicken tenders, with sauce, fries, and drink ($9.99). There’s also a Nashville Hot AF version.
The “party tenders” section offers 20 seasoned tenders or Nashville Hot AF tenders for $25.
Tender Shack showcases six sauce options currently—a signature option, Carolina Gold BBQ, Ginger Soy Glaze, Buffalo Parmesan, Buttermilk Ranch, and Honey Mustard.
A $1 cookie is the lone dessert for now.
Off-premises represented a core strategy for Bloomin’, especially Outback and Carrabba’s, pre-COVID-19. But it’s only gained prominence since.
READ MORE: Outback has a new menu, and steak, value, and abundance is the centerpiece
Pre-virus, the company pushed about $10 million per week in total off-premises business. It peaked around $32 million in April prior to reopenings. With most of the footprint back, Bloomin’ generated $23 million in off-premises dining in mid-July on $52 million of total sales.
Of Outback’s off-premises mix, to-go represented 55 percent, in-house delivery 13 percent, and the rest third-party.
In July, the company also said it was holding more than 50 percent of off-premises volumes built up during dining-room closures in April.
Outback added third-party users skewed toward new guests and lower party sizes. Core customers tended to go direct for delivery and pickup.
For Chili’s, launching a virtual brand has already paid significant dividends. “It’s Just Wings” was announced at the end of June, also through DoorDash. Brinker International said in August the brand was producing revenue at a $150-million-per-year pace. It rolled across 1,050 Chili’s and Maggiano’s essentially overnight.
CEO Wyman Roberts estimated it was totaling more than $3 million per week in sales, equating to comps growth in the low-single to mid-single digits. And doing so with little to no capital investment, resulting in steady margins (no extra kitchen equipment needed).
Brinker tested in seven Dallas stores for about two months before going national. Roberts added the company is looking to add more virtual brands in the future and views the channel as one outlet to build margins, which stood at 6.4 percent this past quarter and 12.2 percent in June.