Steakhouses also offer a fine-dining experience that transcends the service guests receive at a casual-dining spot. In New York City, for example, at Gallaghers Steakhouse and Peter Luger Steakhouse, customers are paying for a “level of professional care and service that you don’t get at Applebee’s. You’re buying theatre,” Howes says.
But most steakhouses need to do a better job of appealing to a wider clientele than business people. “Steakhouses have to tone down the male testosterone and offer healthier items including chicken and vegan options,” Howes says.
Some steakhouses are even offering deals to widen their appeal. At select Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses, the bar area offers a prix fixe meal of an appetizer, steak, and desert for $50. At the tables, most steaks alone cost about $45. It’s attracting a different clientele by offering a discount and still maintaining higher price point at most tables, Howes says.
Adapting to changing consumer tastes is paramount. Outback Steakhouse, Howes says, “didn’t keep its eye on the ball and consumers got bored with it.”
New York City attorney Nate Read says he still craves the steakhouse experience, despite watching his weight and being nutritious-conscious. He gravitates to steakhouses because “the best of them serve a substantially better steak than most generally focused restaurants and light years beyond anything I could make at home.”
“I don’t eat a ton of steak but when I do I’m so happy that it’s worth the risk to me,” he says. “I can have a fully and absolutely satisfying meal at a great steakhouse—and not eat any carbs.”
Read would still like to see steakhouses eliminate the men’s club vibe, which should have been taken out long ago, and supplement the menu with fish options.
At Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach, which seats 188 guests who pay an average $80 dinner tab, owner Ralph Lewis says, “Year in and year out, steak is still America’s most popular food of choice. If they celebrate and go out to dinner, steak is a mainstay.”