Coming to Baltimore, mate, is one of Outback Steakhouse Inc.'s Australian-theme Outback restaurants, the company said yesterday.
The Tampa-based collection of chain restaurants plans to open one of its few urban Outbacks in Canton's American Can Company building by late fall in the space once occupied by the Bibelot bookstore.
Outback operates a Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and a Roy's in the city in Inner Harbor East, through joint venture and franchise agreements.
Outback will lease the last available space in the building - 6,300 square feet - developed and operated by Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse Inc.
Stephen S. Newton, joint venture partner with Outback, said the company was attracted by Canton's energy.
"We selected the Canton location after a thoughtful review of our current portfolio in the greater Baltimore and Maryland region," Newton said in a statement. "Downtown Baltimore has experienced an exciting revitalization in recent years, and Canton in particular has become a vibrant area which we wanted to take part in."
A formula of large portions, moderate prices and a casual dining atmosphere has helped make Outback one of the leading casual restaurant companies since its founding in 1988. Traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Outback had sales of $2.4 billion last year and net income of $156.4 million. Market capitalization is $2.9 billion.
It operates about 990 restaurants in all 50 states and 21 countries. Eighteen Outbacks are in Maryland, including six in the Baltimore area.
The new Outback, open only for dinner, will bring the total number of eateries in American Can Company to seven. The others are Austin Grill, Franco Zeppi, Kiss Cafe, Subway, Atlantic and Hudson St. Bakery.
John Pezzulla, the building's general manager, said the new restaurant would draw more diners. "Each restaurant is very different, and when we were looking to lease the space we really looked to complement what was here," Pezzula said. "Outback adds to the merchandise mix, it doesn't duplicate."
The 250,000-square-foot office and retail development also has 350 free parking spaces in a garage and lot, which helps attract tenants and customers, he said.
The Outback space has been empty for months, since a temporary bookstore, Book Market, moved out after about a year in operation. The space had been occupied by Bibelot, a local chain that filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2001. Three other Bibelots also closed. A Barnes & Noble bookstore has opened in the former Bibelot in Pikesville.