I have to hand it to Outback Steakhouses these day as they are coming up with a number of fun deals to get people in the door.
On a recent visit to the Lahaina location upstairs near the Melting Pot, there was a sea of happy diners all sinking their teeth into a host of specials - from the crunchy Bloomin' Onion with its spicy sauce to the New York steak encrusted in black pepper and topped with savory brandy sauce over golden potato wedges.
In fact, the restaurant is banking on the fact customers will boomerang back to get more of its new 15 Under $15 menu promotion.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Executive Chef Pedro Ornelas (left) and owner Art Ortiz of Outback Steakhouse in Lahaina are proud to unveil their 15 meals for under $15.
"We understand that times are tough for everybody," says owner Art Ortiz, who's been with the Outback corporation for 15 years now. "So we're offering this new value menu of 15 dishes under $15 to stir things up. We want to make sure you get out of the house and enjoy yourselves. And this menu does the trick."
In addition, Outback Steakhouse just announced that it will be sending one lucky winner along with three of his/her friends Down Under as part of the Australia Getaway Sweepstakes, running through April 30.
"Anyone throughout Hawaii - and only in Hawaii - may enter the prize drawing at any Outback Steakhouse on Oahu, Maui or the Big Island. No purchase is necessary," says publicist Darcy Maeda Manning of McNeil Wilson.
"The winner, to be randomly selected in May, will receive free airfare for four via Hawaiian Airlines' nonstop service from Honolulu to Sydney, as well as hotel accommodations courtesy of Marriott Hotels Australia and a rental car for one week in the popular destination city."
The 15 Under $15 promo was launched simultaneously with the contest. Other selections include grilled chicken on the barbie in Outback's secret sauce, served with fresh seasonal vegetables; pork tenderloin in a sweet and spicy apricot chile glaze; and the No Rules parmesan fettuccine with a choice of grilled shrimp, chicken or both.
"There's no question that these are challenging economic times for our Hawaii customers," says Tim Madonna, the joint venture partner of Outback Hawaii. "In the interest of flavor, variety and value, we will continue to serve all the affordable-priced favorites like USDA Choice beef steaks, shrimp and fish entrees and our one-of-a-kind Aussie-Tizers that make Outback Hawaii's favorite steakhouse."
There are two Outbacks on Maui, the above-mentioned one in Lahaina Gateway and one in the Piilani Shopping Center in Kihei.
"Our Lahaina store is very community minded," Ortiz says. " We offer plenty of parking and we're open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. and we do late-night drinks and appetizers in the bar from 10 p.m. to midnight."
New locally made drafts are poured, such as Pale Ale and Fire Rock. "Come join us for March madness basketball," says Ortiz. "We've got four TVs in the lounge, great service and air conditioning. And, don't forget to try our dessert trio of three of our most popular desserts."
For more details, call Outback Lahaina at 665-1822.