Michael Stutts, Executive Vice President, Chief Customer Officer.

The Bloomin’ Onion is a household name in Florida. Others around the U.S. have likely tried it or one of the knockoffs that can be found in various casual dining restaurants. The deep fried treat served with zesty bloom sauce is the heart of any good meal at Outback. In fact, the bloomin’ part of the onion is the best way to accurately describe the way Bloomin’ Brands Inc. has burst into the restaurant industry. The Australian themed Outback Steakhouse got its start in Tampa, but it is now worldwide as Bloomin’ Brands has expanded and includes Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. A large brand often has to ask itself how it keeps things fresh. Bloomin’ Brands got their answer when they had an executive change up early last year that saw several members leave and the CEO transition to the role of Executive Chairman. One of the newly appointed executives was Executive VP and Chief Customer Officer Michael Stutts.

Stutts is responsible for the company’s global digital and customer strategy. It is no small task, and even though he was only appointed in May of 2019, Stutts has begun to bloom like the appetizer that made the company famous. He has seized the reigns of the delivery project created by former CEO Elizabeth Smith. The company had been developing an in-house delivery system, but in an effort to meet consumer demand, they turned to a third-party partnership with delivery company DoorDash. This partnership made Outback the largest steakhouse available on the DoorDash menu and many of Carrabba’s locations were added as well.

The most challenging part of Stutts’ job will be his customer strategy with adding new concepts to their stable. Early last year, Bloomin’ Brands opened Aussie Grill in Saudi Arabia and the U.S. with more coming this year. Aussie Grill is a spinoff of Outback that caters to the fast casual crowd who want Outback’s signature flavor on the go. By paring down the menu, Stutts can deliver a curated customer experience and determine which items belong at Outback and which are better suited for the smaller format. Several restaurants are trying to edge in on the trend of fast casual spinoffs, but we are still in uncharted waters with how the brands will perform long term. This executive is making sure this new brand is fulfilling customer needs while also carving out a profit of its own. He has already used the first U.S. Aussie Grill as a test kitchen for international menu items.

Michael Stutts has continued to forge an omni-channel experience between Bloomin’s various brands and he has largely succeeded as the company’s earnings are up over 2019. He is likely to have a long career in the restaurant industry with his proven customer strategies in a relatively short tenure.

To learn more about Michael Stutts, Bloomin’ Brands Inc., and its brands, subscribe to CSG’s Chain Restaurant Premier Database and access full company profiles, including contact information for its key decision makers. Michael Stutts will be speaking at the Retail Smarter 2020 conference, sponsored in part by Chain Store Guide, on March 25th; register today.