After A Years-Long Slump, Red Robin Unveils Big Plans For The Future

When Red Robin got its start, it went by a very different name, according to its website. Sam's Tavern opened in Seattle in the 1940s, but its founder eventually renamed the restaurant after some of his favorite song lyrics to "Sam's Red Robin." In 1969, Sam's name was removed, and the casual dining chain has been serving up burgers, fries, and milkshakes ever since.

According to Restaurant Dive, Red Robin saw its highest revenue and number of locations between 2017 and 2018, with $1.4 billion in revenue and 573 restaurants. However, by 2019, locations had begun closing their doors, and revenue was down. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant chain saw even more hardship. By the end of 2022, there were reportedly only 511 restaurants open, making up a total of $1.26 billion.

To rejuvenate the chain and bring back its former popularity, Red Robin's CEO has announced changes that will be implemented to the chain.

The company wants to improve its operations

Red Robin previously removed training centers, which required existing managers to train new managers in-restaurant, adding stress to both sides, reports Restaurant Dive. CEO G.J. Hart stated that if inexperienced managers were left to train new managers, the lack of experience could impact customer service practices and overall performance. To remedy this, Red Robin will now include restaurant operators in company decisions and provide monthly rewards to high-performing operators.

Red Robin did away with the busser position in 2018, shifting the responsibilities of clearing tables onto waitstaff, adding additional stress on top of serving customers. Now, changes will be made to ensure waitstaff are not overbooked on the number of tables they are taking care of at a time — though it is unclear if the company will bring back bussers.

Finally, the company will be making some menu changes. Though its menu is best known for its burgers, bottomless french fries, and towers of onion rings, Hart stated that he wants to look into adding some better-for-you alternatives to the menu. The restaurants will also be switching to flattop grills to ensure a more even, quick cook on its foods.