Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Outback acknowledges plans for another concept

Outback has quietly confirmed that it plans to launch a new seafood concept called Blue Coral Seafood & Wine Bar, a venture expected to be a seafood version of the company’s upscale Fleming's steakhouse brand.

Like Fleming’s and Outback’s new Paul Lee’s Chinese Kitchen concepts, Blue Coral was conceived by Phoenix restaurateur and philanthropist Paul Fleming, who is also the P.F. in P.F. Chang’s. Outback already operates a seafood chain, Bonefish Grill, which executives have described as a seafood version of the company’s namesake steakhouse concept. Blue Coral is expected to be pricier than Bonefish, with a far stronger emphasis on wine.

Seafood also constitutes much of the menu of Roy’s, Outback’s Hawaiian concept.

A newspaper near Outback’s headquarters city of Tampa, Fla., The St. Petersburg Times, reported in July that the company had secured a lease in Newport Beach, Calif., for a restaurant called Blue Corral Seafood & Wine Bar. But the company would not confirm at the time that it planned to try a new venture.

Last week, Outback disclosed that chief branding officer Nancy Schneid was leaving that post to launch a consultancy. The company noted that Schneid’s new concern would offer guidance on a number of its upstart brands. Blue Coral was one of the brands cited as likely to get Schneid’s attention.

But Outback isn’t revealing any details about Blue Coral. A spokesperson wouldn’t respond to requests for information.

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