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.”
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.
“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.