- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
Nov. 20, 2020
He started as a fry cook and now is the managing partner for the Sioux Falls Outback Steakhouse location.
“It took a little while to get there, but ultimately I’m where I always wanted to be,” said Robbie Stowell, who moved to Sioux Falls from Watertown in 2001.
His career has taken in him in and out of the restaurant industry, including multiple stints at Outback as he worked his way up. He most recently was the general manager at Josiah’s Coffehouse & Cafe for four years.
“And when Steve (Hildebrand) sold Josiah’s at the beginning of the year, this position became available, and when I left (previously) I told the JVP (joint venture partner) it was the only job I wanted.”
Becoming a managing partner involves buying into ownership, which Stowell was able to do late this summer when the previous partner in Sioux Falls moved to a different market.
“I love it,” he said, while adding the changing hours have taken some adjusting for his family, which includes twin daughters.
Managing a full-service restaurant through a pandemic has its challenges too. He has about 60 people on staff, but “the goal is to be closer to 75 to 80 once we get into December,” he said. “We’re just fighting for business like everyone else in Sioux Falls. Our staff is 100 percent mask adherence, everybody from front to back. They wear gloves taking stuff to cars. We’re sanitizing door handles and bathrooms and doing everything we can to make customers feel safe.”
He also has created barriers between booths and practices distancing customers “as business allows, so at the beginning and end of the shift, we create as much space between customers as possible,” he said. “And we ask customers to wait in their cars and the table wait system will send a text message when the table is ready.”
Customers also are discovering a new, broader menu, after Outback scaled back its offerings in the spring as the pandemic hit.
“It’s one of the biggest menu roll-outs Outback has ever done, 40 items front to back that were new items and added-back favorites,” Stowell said.
Popular items include a prime rib sandwich on French bread with grilled onions and mushrooms and Provolone, with French onion soup for dipping.
The signature Bloomin’ Onion appetizer also has a reduced price of $8.
“You almost have to go back 20 years to get the Bloomin’ Onion at that price,” he said.
The restaurant also offers 10 percent off for veterans as part of its Operation Home Front initiative.
“It’s all about veterans and active military and a big partnership with Outback and all branches of the military, and Outback does a great job partnering and doing what they can to help.”
Outback has been in Sioux Falls since 1998 at 2411 S. Carolyn Ave. While it has been a difficult year for sales growth, “we’re getting there, and the more comfortable people get to come eat the better, and our off-premise is really good, way better than it’s ever been,” Stowell said.
There’s a new managing partner and a new menu at the Sioux Falls Outback Steakhouse.