Wed. Sep 20th, 2023
Black Angus looks to boost delivery by eating the fee
Black Angus looks to boost delivery by eating the fee

Black Angus is hoping to grow its to-go business. | Photo courtesy of Black Angus Steakhouse

The most popular meal at Black Angus Steakhouse is the two-person Campfire Feast. The special combo gives customers their choice of appetizer, two entrees, four sides and a dessert for $68. Whether you’re in a recession or not, that’s a darn good deal, and it’s the kind of value the brand has long prided itself on. 

So it bothered the 32-unit West Coast chain a bit that this value proposition wasn’t translating to its delivery business, where it had to charge an extra $8 to $10 in fees to cover the considerable cost of the service.

“You’re getting a burger for $13 and then you’re paying $10 for delivery,” said VP of Growth Deborah Shapiro in an interview. “That $13 just turned into a $23 burger, and it’s not affordable anymore.”

This month, Black Angus took the unusual step of dropping that fee for customers who order delivery directly from its website. There’s no minimum order size to qualify, and Black Angus isn’t hiking its menu prices to cover it, either. Instead, it’s eating the cost itself. 

The fee, which was passed through from delivery partners DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, had simply become too much of a barrier for guests, Shapiro said.

“We are finding that our customers are seeing it as a hindrance for ordering,” she said. “We don’t want it to be a second thought.” 

The Burbank, Calif.-based chain struggled last year. Even in the red-hot steak segment, total sales fell 2.8%, according to Technomic. It is now taking on more costs in hopes of boosting traffic to its delivery business. Shapiro said that’s already happening, though she did not offer specific figures. 

Eliminating those fees has another benefit: The lower price could encourage customers to order directly from rather than through a third-party app, where they will pay more. That means Black Angus gets their emails and can send them marketing messages and entice them to join its Prime Club Rewards program.

Off-premise makes up about 15% of Black Angus’ overall sales, and it is intent on growing that number. In May, it launched a to-go-only brand called Badass Burgers. It has also upgraded its curbside pickup process. About a year and a half ago, it made its famous Campfire Feast available for off-premise for the first time. It even offers its in-store “Celebration Kit,” featuring balloons and a hand-written card, for delivery. 

“We know that post-pandemic that this is a way our customers enjoy eating,” Shapiro said. “We are a celebration location … but we respect the fact that people also want to do celebrations at home.”

Plus, off-premise guests tend to spend more: The average order is $50, higher than in the restaurant. That ticket, though, has come down since Black Angus started offering free delivery. It used to be $55. 

“We honestly think that was mostly because of the delivery fee,” Shapiro said.

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