April 12, 2013
Outback Steakhouse is heading back to The Bahamas. Located at the old Bennigan's Grill & Tavern, the popular franchise will make a comeback this summer after a similar restaurant shut down along East Bay Street. The rebooted restaurant in Mall at Marathon, the nation's largest retail center, promises to have more staying power. According to Chris Mortimer, the franchise holder in The Bahamas, management has been training at Outback Steakhouse locations in Florida since the beginning of 2013.
Maintaining brand integrity and ensuring good service have been key goals for management. "The brand is excellent for The Bahamas. We just want to make sure that people experience the same Outback Steakhouse as in the U.S.," he said. "It is all about staffing and training, and management is committed to ensuring customers have that experience." The new restaurant will employ up to 50 Bahamians. "It allows us to pull from the best, in terms of Bahamians looking for employment. It will be good for the brand and for the Nassau economy," he added.
"The whole team will be Bahamian. The reason management has been in the U.S. so long is to ensure they have the right training and mind-set for when we open." Mortimer did not provide a specific date for the opening, although he said it would happen this summer. In fact, the interior renovations are ongoing and should be completed in the next couple of weeks. A representative from the franchise is expected in Nassau soon to inspect the 6,000-square-foot restaurant.
Robert Stevenson, the general manager for Mall at Marathon, told Guardian Business that the mall currently has 93 percent occupancy. The mall is still recovering from the financial crisis, he explained. Prior to 2008, Mall at Marathon was accustomed to 99 percent occupancy. The introduction of Outback Steakhouse and a few other tenants in the next few months should help bolster its numbers.
Stevenson told Guardian Business there are 105 shops at the mall with a total staff complement of around 1,200. He estimated an annual shopper count of around 2 million. "We are still a shopping center in Nassau unlike any other. It doesn't compare here locally to the strip centers, which are very nice. But they have limited variety and amenities," he said. " I see the mall continuing its improvement in the marketplace and hopefully more stores will come online soon."
For his part, Mortimer said Outback Steakhouse is already a "proven" brand in The Bahamas. With management learning from the last attempt, he sees no reason why it can't be a success this time around. "There are certain brands that work here. This brand has proven itself. The menu is suited to what Bahamians like, so we think the food and design of the restaurant will work for the Bahamian personality," according to Mortimer.
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