Don’t be fooled by the accent: Outback Steakhouse’s cuisine is far more American than Australian, with liberally seasoned steaks, deep-fried shrimp platters, and sauce-drenched desserts. And most people appear to be fine with it. In 30 years, Outback has grown from an unremarkable start to become one of America’s most popular restaurant chains, a place where the Fosters is constantly flowing and more than one boomerang is likely to be attached to the wall. But did you ever wonder how did Outback Steakhouse start?
Four Americans who had never visited Australia launched Outback Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. They just saw an opportunity to capitalize on the craze for all things Australian that erupted in the aftermath of the 1986 blockbuster Crocodile Dundee. “American cuisine and Australian joy,” was their concept.
The Outback Did Not Get Off To a Good Start
The first day was as desolate as a sun-baked motorway extending into the distance. Employees at the Tampa, Florida branch were required to park in the lot to make it appear full, as well as contact their friends and family and urge them to come in. To increase revenue, the founders spent money on advertisements and promotions and spread the word.
Outback Steakhouse is an Australian-themed American casual dining restaurant brand headquartered in Tampa, Florida, that serves American cuisine. The company has over 1,000 stores in 23 countries in North and South America, Asia, and Australia.
It was founded in March 1988 by Bob Basham, Chris T. Sullivan, Trudy Cooper, and Tim Gannon, with its first location in Tampa. It was owned and operated in the United States by OSI Restaurant Partners until it was acquired by Bloomin’ Brands and by other franchise and venture agreements internationally. (Source: Tampa Outback Steakhouse)
All three were restaurant industry professionals looking to invest in a fresh idea. Following the development of the Outback Steakhouse concept, a study trip was planned and then promptly rejected. According to co-founder Chris Sullivan, they didn’t want to be affected by the cuisine or jeopardize their aim of providing American food and Australian pleasure. (Source: Outback Steakhouse)
The Infamous Bloomin’ Onion
The Bloomin’ Onion is an iconic Outback dish. It’s a one-pound onion that’s been bloomed, breaded, deep-fried, and served with a mayonnaise-horseradish sauce. Chili’s Awesome Blossom which was discontinued and Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon’s Texas Rose are two more restaurants that provide products comparable to the Bloomin’ Onion. Many of the Bloomin’ Onions have been chastised for having excessively high-calorie counts, sometimes exceeding 1,500 calories.
Tim Gannon, a co-founder, created the Bloomin’ Onion while working as a chef in New Orleans, seasoning his deep-fried onion recipe with various spice combinations. The Big Easy inspired the 18 various flavors used to marinade Outback’s steaks. (Source: Outback Steakhouse)
One Bloomin’ Onion Is All You Have
There are a lot of them; they simply go by various names. LongHorn Steakhouse’s Texas Rose, Chili’s Awesome Blossom, which was discontinued a few years ago, and the hundreds upon thousands of concoctions individuals make in their own homes using an at-home onion fryer are just a few examples. Only Outback’s onions, however, are grown by dedicated bloomologists. (Source: Outback Steakhouse)