America Will Never Give Up On Its Steakhouses

Despite a pandemic, inflation, and shifting diets, people still love their steak.

I've been pretty careful about where I'm spending my money when I go out to restaurants lately. We've scaled back from nights out at sit-down restaurants to more affordable takeout options and simpler handheld food like sandwiches, and we know we're not alone. That's why it's even more surprising to read over the results of a report from Placer.ai, a company that analyzes consumer foot traffic, which found that while many restaurants are struggling in the current economic landscape, one type of restaurant is thriving: steakhouses.

I'm a (loud) proponent of only going out to restaurants in order to enjoy meals that I can't make as well on my own, and I can cook a mean steak. Consequently, I've always found steakhouses to be massively overrated. If anything, they're sort of a celebratory, once-a-year type of place for me, reserved for birthdays, anniversaries, and big promotions. But that doesn't seem to be the prevailing opinion, because Placer.ai reports that chains like LongHorn Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse are doing well in a market that hasn't been kind to other types of restaurant chains recently.

LongHorn, Texas Roadhouse, and the endurance of the steakhouse

According to Placer.ai's data, LongHorn is seeing a sustained average growth of 11.1% compared to the pre-COVID sales year 2019. In fact, when the omicron variant arose in late 2021 and many Americans started social distancing once more, LongHorn only experienced a minimal dip in sales, and it was still positive growth compared to the same period in 2019.

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Texas Roadhouse is doing even better: The chain has exceeded sales expectations for three of the last four quarters, and it's currently on a positive sales streak. The last time I drove past a Texas Roadhouse, which was a few weeks ago, the parking lot was packed to the gills for dinner service.

It's not just LongHorn and Texas Roadhouse, either. Smaller chains like Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Colton's Steak House and Grille, and The Capital Grille (which is very expensive) are consistently demonstrating sales growth month over month, despite the odds being stacked against them in the form of economic uncertainty, supply chain issues, pandemic waves, and a rise in awareness of popular meat alternatives.

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The omicron variant of COVID-19 was a huge blow financially to many restaurants, but these steakhouses managed to both weather the storm and grow in popularity. Even in tough times—perhaps especially during such times—an oversized hunk of decadent red meat served in a cozy, dimly lit booth feels like it has the power to get us through practically anything.

 

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