Shifting Tides in Dining: Outback Steakhouse Closes at Gateway Mall, Red Lobster May Follow

Posted By Samantha Thompson

In a significant shift for the dining landscape of East New York, Brooklyn, Outback Steakhouse has officially closed its doors at Gateway Mall. This closure marks a notable change for the mall’s food offerings and raises concerns about the future of other major franchises, particularly Red Lobster, which is facing challenges nationwide.

Outback Steakhouse Bids Farewell
Outback Steakhouse, known for its Australian-themed dining experience, had been a staple at Gateway Mall, drawing in crowds for its steak and specialty entrees. The decision to close the location comes amid broader financial reassessments by the chain, reflecting changing consumer preferences and economic challenges in the restaurant industry. The closure leaves a significant space vacant in the mall, opening up discussions about future leasing opportunities.

Red Lobster’s Uncertain Future
The situation grows more complex with Red Lobster, another anchor tenant at the Gateway Mall, which is also experiencing turbulence. The seafood chain has been struggling on a national scale, grappling with financial strain exacerbated by the pandemic and shifts in dining habits. Industry analysts suggest that the Red Lobster at Gateway Mall might soon face the same fate as Outback, potentially having to shutter as it navigates these turbulent waters.

This potential closure would leave yet another large vacancy in the mall, creating a critical juncture for the shopping center’s management. The departure of two major food franchises could significantly impact foot traffic, which in turn affects the mall’s smaller retailers.

Implications for Gateway Mall
The departure of these major tenants poses a challenge as well as an opportunity for Gateway Mall. While the loss of Outback Steakhouse and potentially Red Lobster presents immediate challenges in terms of reduced visitor numbers, it also opens the door for new businesses and concepts. Mall management now faces the task of reimagining these spaces, possibly pivoting to different types of attractions or dining options that reflect the evolving tastes and expectations of consumers.

While major franchises within Gateway Mall face challenges, nearby restaurants are flourishing, and new franchises are making their debuts. Just a stone’s throw from the mall’s entrance, Fusion East Caribbean Soul Restaurant stands out as a beacon of success. This locally owned, non-franchise establishment has not only survived over the years but has thrived by diversifying its business model.

Fusion East has expanded beyond its restaurant base by launching branded food trucks that travel across New York City, making contracted stops. Additionally, the restaurant has developed a thriving catering service. “I make sure I diversify. Since the pandemic, I realized the importance of having my own branded food trucks to bring food directly to people, wherever they are. The catering part of our business is actually growing as well. I don’t have to rely solely on in-store traffic to succeed, although that aspect is also performing well. They all work perfectly together,” said Andrew Walcott, the owner of Fusion East.

Just steps from the Gateway Mall near Home Depot, Dallas BBQ has recently opened its doors in a 12,574 square foot space. The landlord is the Arker Company. The initial asking rent for the retail space was $60 per square foot, though the final lease terms have not been disclosed. It will be some years before it’s clear whether Dallas BBQ can thrive in its location just outside the mall.

These examples highlight a vibrant and adaptive dining scene near Gateway Mall, contrasting sharply with the struggles faced by some of the larger, established franchises within the mall itself.

Looking Ahead
As Gateway Mall contemplates its next steps, the focus will likely shift towards diversification and innovation in its leasing strategy. Modern consumers are looking for unique experiences and convenience, trends that the mall can tap into as it seeks to revitalize its offerings. Whether this will involve new dining concepts, entertainment options, or a mix of services, the goal will be to enhance the mall’s appeal to a broader demographic.

The closures of Outback Steakhouse and potentially Red Lobster mark the end of an era for Gateway Mall, but also pave the way for transformation and renewal. As the retail and dining sectors continue to evolve, Gateway Mall’s response to these changes will be crucial in maintaining its status as a key shopping and dining destination in East New York.

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