Red Robin rethinks smaller fast-casual platform

by Erica Shaffer
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 Red Robin
Red Robin closed several Burger Works units, and plans to rebrand and remodel other locations.
 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. – Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. has new plans for the company’s smaller format Red Robin Burger Works. The company closed nine of 12 Red Robin Burger Works locations, and announced plans to rebrand others as Red Robin Express.

On Sept. 30, the company closed five Burger Works restaurants in Chicago, two in Washington, DC, one location in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and another in Boulder. As for the remaining three Burger Works locations, the company said, two restaurants in Denver and one in Clakamas, Oregon, will remain open and be renamed Red Robin Express. Meanwhile, Red Robin Express units in Denver will be remodeled.

Red Robin expects to complete the rebranding of the remaining locations with new Red Robin Express signs and the remodeling of the two Denver Red Robin Express restaurants in late 2016 or early 2017.

“The restaurant industry remains intensely competitive both in casual dining, where Red Robin has become the burger authority over a span of more than 50 years, and in the fast casual burger segment, which we entered more recently,” CEO Denny Marie Post said in a statement. “We’ve gained considerable knowledge since opening the first of our smaller, fast casual locations in 2011. We are now conducting a strategic review of how this alternative platform can better support our brand as a whole and best serve our guests.”

Red Robin announced plans in 2011 to test a smaller prototype restaurant as a complement to the company’s traditional fast-casual dining format. A smaller footprint of 2,000 and 4,000 sq. ft. would enable Red Robin to expand into previously unavailable locations due to space constraints, the company said at the time. Smaller restaurants also enabled Red Robin to modify service and menu offerings.

The company’s revised strategy is intended to differentiate the full-service Red Robin restaurants from the smaller, limited-service Red Robin Express locations. The company said it will continue to explore smaller restaurants that meet consumer demand for convenience through carryout or delivery options.

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