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    Publix to Test In-store Carrabba's Restaurant

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- In yet another sign of supermarkets joining forces with foodservice companies, Publix Super Markets here said yesterday it will test an in-store Carrabba's Italian Grill takeout restaurant in one of its Sarasota stores this summer.

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- In yet another sign of supermarkets joining forces with foodservice companies, Publix Super Markets here said yesterday it will test an in-store Carrabba's Italian Grill takeout restaurant in one of its Sarasota stores this summer.

    If the test is successful, Publix could expand its relationship with Carrabba's parent company, Tampa, Fla.-based Outback Steakhouse, Inc.

    The 1,000-square-foot Carrabba's unit in Publix' Sarasota store will offer a condensed version of Carrabba's made-to-order menu, which includes soups, salads, and entrees, Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous told Progressive Grocer. It will also include a wood oven for pizzas. Although it's a takeout restaurant, patrons will have the option of sitting in a limited deli seating area if they like.

    The entrance to the restaurant will be right inside the store, and customers will have to pay for the restaurant fare at the Carrabba's register, said Brous.

    Sarasota was chosen as a test site because of its customer count, as well as its proximity to Carrabba's parent company, according to Brous.

    "Outback Steakhouse has similar values to Publix in areas such as customer service and quality food. Carrabba's has stellar recipes our customers will enjoy," she noted.

    If the experiment bears fruit, Publix would consider opening Carrabba's or another Outback Steakhouse company in more of its stores, said Brous. (Carrabba's is one of Outback's eight restaurant brands.)

    This isn't the first foodservice venture for Publix. The company is invested in Crisper's, a quick-serve restaurant chain, and has two in-store locations of Crisper's. Publix also leases space inside 10 of its stores to a small Chinese takeout chain.

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