Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Bloomin' Brands CEO announces retirement

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 9:30 a.m. May 7, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Bloomin' Brands CEO David Deno says in May 2023 that Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar will grow to 100 locations and incorporate design of new flagship location in Tampa.
Bloomin' Brands CEO David Deno says in May 2023 that Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar will grow to 100 locations and incorporate design of new flagship location in Tampa.
Photo by Louis Llovio
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
  • Share

David Deno, the CEO of the Tampa based restaurant group Bloomin’ Brands and the man who lead the company through one of the toughest stretches in the restaurant industry’s history, is retiring. 

The company announced Tuesday morning that Deno is stepping down from Bloomin’ Brands after 12 years, the last five as its CEO.

Deno will remain on as the company’s board conducts a search for his replacement and a transition period after that person takes over.

“David has strengthened the financial foundation at Bloomin’ Brands through better profitability and a stronger balance sheet, which is especially impressive given nearly half of his CEO tenure was during COVID,” says Michael Mohan, chairman of the Bloomin’ Brands’ board of directors, in a statement.

Mohan says the conversations about the company’s next steps and Deno’s departure began last year “as a normal course of succession planning.”

Deno came to Bloomin’ Brands in 2012 after a stint working at Best Buy as CFO of the electronics retailer’s international division and its president of Asia.

But most of his career was spent in the restaurant industry.

Last year he told the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association in an interview that he first got into the restaurant business in 1982 after earning his MBA from the University of Michigan, starting as a financial analyst for The Pillsbury Company. Pillsbury owned Burger King and Steak and Ale at the time.

“The restaurant industry was small but growing quickly, so I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

He moved to Miami to work for Burger King a year later and wound up spending eight years with the fast food company. 

He then went to work for Pizza Hut and YUM! Brands. During his 15-year tenure there, he was CFO for Pizza Hut, YUM! Restaurants International and YUM! Brands and chief operating officer of YUM! Brands.

David Deno, CEO of Bloomin' Brands since 2019.
Courtesy image

Altogether, he spent 40 years in the restaurant industry.

When asked what advice he’d give someone new to the business, Deno said they should “take advantage of an industry that still has a lot of growth ahead. Know your capabilities and where you can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to take a chance or two along the way.”

(The interview was for his earning an IFMA Silver Plate, one of the industry’s highest honors.)

Deno started at Bloomin’ Brands as executive vice president and CFO in 2012 and was named CEO and to the company’s board in 2019.

Little could he — or anyone — have known that shortly after taking charge the chain would be faced with the COVID-19 which would almost entirely shut the industry down and cost thousands of people their jobs.

But Bloomin’ Brands survived largely on the strengths of its off-premises sales, and in July 2020, Deno said 92% of the company’s 527 U.S. restaurants had reopened with limited seating.

He credited the quick turnaround on Bloomin’ Brands deciding not to furlough any employees at that time.

In the IFMA interview he called how the company handled COVID as one of the proudest moments of his career. 

“We didn’t lay anyone off and provided relief pay even when our dining rooms were closed and people weren’t working,” he said. “We’re proud that we stood by our people during such a difficult time.”

Blooming Brands operates the Outback Steakhouse, Carrabbas Italian Grill, BonefishGrill and Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar chains.

In all, it has 1,450 restaurants in 47 states, Guam and 13 countries.

Earlier this year the company announced it would close 41 underperforming locations. And according to its first quarter earnings statement released Tuesday, the company’s revenue fell 4% for the first quarter of this year when compared with last year.

“The opportunity in this industry is incredible and I’ve enjoyed watching people grow at all levels and enjoy successful careers,” Deno told IFMA last year.

“Leaders have a responsibility to provide growth and opportunity for people and I take that very seriously.”



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

Latest News


Special Offer: Only $1 Per Week For 1 Year!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.
Join thousands of executives who rely on us for insights spanning Tampa Bay to Naples.