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An Australian-themed steakhouse restaurant, Outback Steakhouse says on its website that “The Company’s strategy is to differentiate its restaurants by emphasizing consistently high-quality food and service, generous portions at moderate prices and a casual atmosphere suggestive of the Australian Outback.”

Judging from the sound bites in our sample, Outback is doing pretty well on the “high-quality food” part but their service is a problem.

Positive Themes


Consumers find the “great menu items” to be the best thing about the chain, especially the bread and the steak.

  • WE had a good dinner tonight at the OutBack. Steak was tender, lobster was good, but you only get a small portion of the lobster it seems The tender steak makes up for it. The combination meal is for a limited time and the price was right. (source)
  • That’s my favorite bread =( RT @Deyanira_isabel: Outback has the best bread ever! (source)
  • prime rib, loaded baked potato, fresh veggies, blue cheese and pecan chopped salad and of course a blooming onion, YUM!!! we had such a great time at The Outback! and the kids had a great time with their babysitters! thanks girls! (source)

“Delicious” was a common verdict on Outback food.

  • My family & I had a delicious dinner tonight at The OutBack Restaurant in Kapolei, T-Bone steak, lobster tail, garden salad and rice. Thank you very much to my Facebook friend Sandra for taking care of our bill. (source)
  • I love outback margarita and spicy shrimp Alfredo is mouthgasmic !!!!!!!!!! (source)

People find the restaurant is “great for meals.”

  • Dinner was fantastic…Of course outback never fails! Now sittn outside at a pub havn sum sangria!!! (source)
  • Holy cow! This might be the best turkey soup I’ve ever concocted! I want Outback for dinner though. Craving a blooming onion and chicken wings, BADLY. (source)

Negative Themes

The most common negative comment was “poor customer service.”

  • you know I hate outback now. waited a freakin hour to get my food because the stupid waitress didnt even send in my order ticket. dang it all. (source)
  • never got to eat at outback they adv it was a 30 min wait..after 2 hrs still had not been seated so we came home an ate pizza. (source)
  • outback was horrible….no silverware no baked potatoes got our meal with no sides no refills…wtf….an assistant manager came up to our table…walked away didnt talk to us…had to get the general manager…got our meal paid for but still. (source)

Many posters feel the chain has an “unappetizing menu,” and some single out the two most-praised items: steak and bread.

  • BWW isn’t my favorite but it’s a cool atmosphere. As far as TR-If I have to go to a chain steakhouse, that’s the one. I despise Outback since I have to of the worst steaks I have ever had there and their burgers suck too. The only thing they have there that has been good are the chili cheese fries and blooming onion. The few times I have been to TR it has actually been pretty good. (source)
  • THE BREAD AT OUTBACK IS EVIL!!! (source)

Some diners feel the food is of “poor quality.”

  • I don’t think would have mattered what I ordered. We tried a “bloomin’ onion” which was burnt and sitting in an inch or grease. I don’t think I will be going back to Outback anytime soon. FYI: it was the Westlake location. (source)
  • Ok it is NOT that freakin hard to make a baked potato!! so explain to me why outback messed up 4 potatos 3 frickin times! oh yeah and they over cooked my kids grilled chicken and by the time her food was redone and brought out, we were all pretty much done eatin! tim was about to drive out to mcdonalds and get a damn crappy meal for the kid…sheesh! (source)

Insights

The Outback chain was voted #1 Best Steak in the 2010 Zagat Survey of National Full-Service Restaurant Chains for the second consecutive year, and most consumers in our sample agree that their steaks are good. Same with their bread, blooming onion appetizer, buffalo wings, and other dishes.

But the quality of the food is only one component of the overall dining experience—service makes a big impression, and for Outback, this is an area that needs work. Long waits and mixed-up orders are common complaints. And even though in many instances the chain tries to make up for it by comping a dish or entrée, that mollifies patrons only part of the time. Many still rant about their experience online and vow not to return.

So for Outback, as for Olive Garden, it might make sense to reduce the number of tables, or boost the number of servers and kitchen staff, or take reservations, or find some way to serve the correct meal more quickly to diners. They may be able to serve fewer diners in an evening, but those diners will have—and will write about—a better experience.