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Red Robin Looks to Regain Its Mojo

Filed under Business, Casual Dining Burgers

Can melted cheese reverse Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews’ decline? A new value-priced menu of cheesy items is one of several initiatives announced this morning by the chain’s new CEO, Denny Marie Post, who laid out her plan to “get our mojo back.”

CEO Denny Marie Post

CEO Denny Marie Post

It won’t be easy, as she admitted and as its Q2 numbers attest: customer traffic declined for the third straight quarter, causing same-store sales to do the same. Red Robin’s market share dropped by a full 1%. “We can and we will regain our momentum and take share again,” Post vowed.

A new “Cheese Lover’s Lineup”—a trio of melted cheese goodies including the previously reported Buzz Mac ‘N’ Cheese Tavern Double burger, a Four Cheese Melt (below) and Tavern Mac ‘N’ Cheese, all priced at $6.99—is intended to improve consumer value perception and regain traffic. Post didn’t throw the $12-and-up Finest burger line under the bus, though: that is getting its highest share of mix and the current Mad Love LTO is doing well enough to perhaps become permanent, she said.

Red Robin also will begin promoting a Happy Hour to get off-hour visits and it will leverage its 5.8-million-member loyalty program harder.

RedRobin_FourCheese

“We have lost reliability at the place to go for a quick lunch,” Post said in explaining a new emphasis on speed of service. A kitchen display kitchen rolling out will help it get food to tables in less than 15 minutes. Although labor costs are rising, red Robin is investing in incremental labor to improve service during high-volume weekend hours.

Beyond speed-to-table, the focus will also will be on getting Red Robin into delivery and online ordering. Multiple pilots will be launched by fall, including a 32-store online trial. The days of customers “waiting patiently outside with buzzers in hand is long gone,” Post said.

Finally, Red Robin advertising and marketing will get a badly needed overhaul via new ad agency KBS, New York. The chain needs to improve top-of-mind awareness, Post said, because “when we are considered, we win.” Media weight will increase and shift to national buys until the election season ends, when local buys will return.

RedRobin_Exterior2016

6 Responses to Red Robin Looks to Regain Its Mojo

  1. Pete Lynch

    What they really need to do is stop cooking the burgers to death!

  2. Joel

    Lower prices could help them out. They are too expensive for lunch for what they offer. Poor value.

  3. Alex

    Used to be a fairly regular RR visitor. I have all but stopped now. Why?

    (1) Portion sizes and high prices, you can do one or the other but a small Whisky River BBQ Wrap and a high price will not bring me back.
    (2) I freaking hate that damn ipad-wannabe-thing-a-ma-bob. I want the wait person to greet me, take my order and bring me my order. I told the last young lady I wanted Onion Rings for which she told me “use the thing-a-ma-bob” and it will place your order. Seriously? I just told you what I wanted. Yet she was happy to take my order for our meal. But again, when my son wanted desert, you guessed it use the “use the thing-a-ma-bob” again. Fail on RR’s part and killed the tip. Plus I expect my wait person to bring me my food and know who ordered what. This has been a long time complaint of RR.
    (3) I don’t know who the chef is that comes up with some of the burger combinations, but damn some are flat out horrible.
    (4) When I order bacon I want BACON not paper thin bacon. Come on, get some good thick sliced bacon.
    (5) Fries, the steel ring was cute, but face it you did it to cut down on the amount of fries. See # 1 above about portion sizes.
    (6) Finally ditch the damn Birthday songs, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor is gone, if I come in for a burger and a beer I don’t want to listen to some lame birthday song fit for a 5 year old.
    (7) Focus on flavor. I can grill up a burger any day; when I come to RR I want something I can’t make and I want it to be flavorful.

    I have a choice: 5 guys isn’t far away, while not the same I can get a tasty burger and fries for less money.

  4. Borgino

    Good list, Alex.

    I would add that I also dislike the ipad-thing. They have a host of games for the kids on this thing, which sounds like a great idea. However, it’s an upcharge of a couple dollars to play the games, all of which would be freeware on an actual ipad.

    Instead of a nice feature that acts as a magnet to attract business, it ends up keeping me away since I resent having to pay extra. Nickel and diming the customer is a bad long term business model, RR.

  5. Jay

    They want to improve their value perception by charging $7 for a grilled cheese sandwich? Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

  6. Alex

    So true Jay, so very true!