Higher menu prices helped Red Robin Gourmet Burgers report for Q3. The chain reported a 3.5% in same-store sales for the 12 weeks ended Oct. 4, 2015. That gain was comprised of a 3.6% increase in the average check (2.2% from price; 1.4% from menu mix shifts) offset by a 0.1% decline in customer traffic. Still, CEO Steve Carley told analysts today that Red Robin had “taken market share from our competitors” during what he called a “very tough” quarter for casual-dining concepts.
The improvement in menu mix came from slightly higher alcoholic beverage sales (up 30 basis points to 7.9% of sales) and stronger appetizer and dessert sales, according to Carley. But surely the average check ($13) has been helped by Red Robin’ marketing focus on it top-price Finest line of burgers. Those are priced from $13 up to the $14.49 price tag for its Überburger promotion for Oktoberfest.
This week, Red Robin introduced another Finest LTO: the Mad Love Burger. This is a version of Latin House Grill Chef Michell Sanchez’s burger that was named Red Robin’s Best of the Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival earlier this year. The Mad Love Burger is a half-pound Black Angus beef patty with melted provolone and Swiss cheeses, a Cheddar and Parmesan cheese crisp, jalapeňo relish, candied bacon, avocado slices, a blend of citrus marinated tomatoes and onions, and shredded romaine served on a toasted Ciabatta bun. A Gingerbread Milk shake and Root Brewski Float also are on the new menu.
Red Robin also will introduce a chicken sandwich its Finest line as soon as it finds the right name. An online contest to name the sandwich, which has a 7-oz. grilled chicken breast, fontina cheese, peppered bacon, arugula and oven-roasted-tomato aïoli on a telera bun.
Carley said Red Robin will open 25 locations in 2016, almost of them the new midsize design with a central bar and smaller overall footprint.