One of the most successful concepts of all time is Outback Steakhouse. Who would have guessed that Outback founders Chris Sullivan and Robert Basham and Senior Vice President Tim Gannon’s philosophy of ”No rules, just right” would become so successful? When it opened in 1988, beef was not everyone’s favorite dish. Now there are more than 880 Outbacks. Chris Sullivan says, ”Our restaurants serve the freshest food possible, using our imported Parmesan cheese, grated fresh daily, and our imported virgin olive oil. Our fresh midwestern grain-fed beef is the highest-quality choice beef available, and we serve only fresh, never frozen, chicken and fish. Almost everything is made fresh daily.
We like to describe our menu as ‘full flavored.’ In 1993, the Outback concept was growing so well that they decided to diversify into Italian food and purchased a 50 percent interest in Carraba’s Italian Grill. In 1995, Outback purchased the sole rights to develop the Carraba’s concept, which features a casual dinner in a warm festive atmosphere with a variety of fresh handmade Italian dishes cooked to order in the exhibition kitchen. Continued growth of all concepts came, in large part, from Outback’s mission statement: We believe that if we take care of Our People, then the institution of Outback will take care of itself.
We believe that people are driven to be a part of something they can be proud of, is fun, values them, and that they can call their own. We believe in the sanctity of the individual, the value of diversity, and in treating people with kindness, respect, and understanding. We believe that caring for people individually results in their emotional involvement in Outback. We believe in working as a team: having shared goals and a common purpose, serving one another, and supporting their Outbackers. We believe the most important function of the organization is to enable Partners and Managers to effectively run their restaurants and to support their Outbackers. Our purpose is to prepare Outbackers to exercise good judgment and live our principles and beliefs.
This preparation will result in a company of restaurants that endures, prospers, and increases shareholder’s value. Outback has five principles for success: hospitality, sharing, quality, fun, and courage. Hospitality is defined as giving for the sake of giving, rather than for the sake of gaining. Given these ingredients, it is not surprising that Outback continues to grow and acquire other concepts. In 1999, it purchased Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, an upscale contemporary steakhouse concept designed to be an ongoing celebration of the best in food, wine, and the company of friends and family. In addition to the finest prime beef and steaks, it sells more than 100 wines by the glass. In 2000, Outback opened the first Lee Roy Selmon’s restaurant, featuring soul-satisfying Southern comfort cooking.
The next year it acquired Bonefish Grill, a very popular fresh seafood concept with a stylish decor and great ambiance. Ever on a roll, Outback has opened several Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants inspired by the Jimmy Buffett song. What next? you ask. How about Paul Lee’s China Kitchen? Outback has amassed an awesome collection of great restaurant concepts, and it all started with a ”G’day mates, and have a Bonzer day!” approach to the business.