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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 5 years ago

Will the real fake Outback please stand up?

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An Australian retail consultant has taken exception to Outback Steakhouse's “unabashed lack” of authenticity as well as its overly attentive service.

An Australian retail consultant has taken exception to Outback Steakhouse's “unabashed lack” of authenticity as well as its overly attentive service.

The Tampa-based restaurant chain's lack of authenticity “is reinforced by almost every other aspect of its brand,” writes Michael Baker in the Aug. 7 Sydney Morning Herald.

Baker, who visited a Rochester, N.Y., steakhouse, also points out the servers are Americans, not Australians.

The consultant goes for the carotid artery when he pulls out Men's Health Magazine's ranking of America's worst foods by caloric intake. Yep, the “weapon of mass destruction,” a.k.a Aussie cheese fries with ranch dressing.

American diners, he says, seem “blissfully unaware of both the lack of authenticity and the elevated calorie count.”

He blasts his server for apologizing for forgetting the salad dressing and then giving him a free salad and glass of wine. A manager also apologized.

“Perhaps the kitchen staff responsible for putting salad dressing on trays had already been quietly removed from the premises in handcuffs, never to serve in a restaurant again,” he writes.

Then comes a backward compliment.

“Occasional 'over-serving' is just a symptom of operating in such a highly competitive market that even a small slip-up can send a customer to the other side,” he writes. “Outback's management is clever enough to understand that loyalty in retail has to be earned not just once but over and over again.”

Ah, over serving is worth the risk.

Baker plans to return to Outback Steakhouse. Maybe he'll visit one in Australia where the servers are Australian?

Or he might look at old authentic American articles on the company. Co-founder Chris Sullivan has said for years the Australian-theme concept was not authentic. In one article, Sullivan says make no mistake: Outback is “uniquely American.”

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