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Red Robin overhauls menu

Revamp marks latest move in chain’s turnaround efforts

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. unveiled a menu overhaul at its corporate stores Monday that includes the return of several dishes and a 1.5-percent price increase.

The casual-dining chain typically freshens its menu in the spring, but this year’s update is more comprehensive than usual as part of ongoing turnaround efforts at the company, said Susan Lintonsmith, Red Robin’s chief marketing officer.

In February, Red Robin officials detailed its Project RED initiative with the goal of driving traffic, building sales, reducing expenses and improving margins. The plan has included internal changes such as the addition of new board members, the appointment last year of chief executive Steve Carley, the launch of a new loyalty program, and a renewed focus on boosting bar sales.

The new menu, rolled out Monday at corporate locations, has a tri-fold format, replacing the former poster card menu. Red Robin said the new menu better communicates the ways guests can customize their meals, such as by choosing the type of bun for their burger, a side option such as steamed broccoli or macaroni-and-cheese instead of fries, or the variety of beverages from the bar.

“Our guests were telling us they didn’t realize how much variety we have on our menu, like our chicken sandwiches, our entrées and our bar selection,” Lintonsmith said.

In addition to the new format, the new menu includes about a dozen new items, some of which are a return to the past.
Returning items include cocktails that harken back to the concept’s tavern roots in Seattle, such as the Screaming Red Zombie and the Flat On Your Beak, which were popular in the 1960s.

New on the drink menu is a line of cocktails made with fresh fruit, such as the Strawberry Lemon Vojito, the Absolutely Absolut Freckled Lemonade and the Cherry Lime Flip.

The Jump Starters section of the chain’s appetizer menu now include an old favorite, fried clam strips, which can be ordered individually or combined with the new options of fried zucchini or mushrooms, with a choice of dipping sauces. Clamstrips also can be ordered as an entrée for a recommended $9.99.

Other Jump Starter appetizers are onion rings, Kettle-cooked chips, fried jalapeno coins or cheesesticks. They are priced at for $2.99 for one or $5.79 for two.

Also new on the appetizer menu are Triple S Riblets, tossed in the Whiskey River BBQ sauce or a sweet, smoky and spicy Triple S barbecue sauce, and served with Kettle-cooked chips for $7.79.

The revamped menu also includes a new category called Perfect Combos with four options: Riblets & Clucks, with riblets and fried chicken strips; Clucks & Shrimp, with fried chicken and fried shrimp; Riblets & Mac’n’Cheese; and Red’s Nantucket Seafood Platter, with hand-battered fried cod, fried shrimp, clam strips and Bottomless Steak Fries. The combination options range in price from $11.99 to $13.99.

New entrées include a Grilled Chicken Alla Caprese Salad, made with romaine lettuce, pesto dressing, black olives and pepperoni strips served with a grilled chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, bruschetta salsa and drizzled with balsamic cream for $9.99.

Also highlighted on the new menu are a selection of salads, wraps, sandwiches and soups, as well as new beverage offerings such as shakes and smoothies.

A separate beverage menu will be available later this spring, Red Robin said.

With menu labeling on the horizon, Red Robin is also offering nutrition data online and through a downloadable iPhone app.

Red Robin officials said earlier this year that the spring menu would include a 1.5-percent price increase, the first in nearly three years, in response to rising commodity costs.

Based in Greenwood Village, Colo., Red Robin operated 314 locations and franchised another 136 at the close of the December-ended fourth quarter.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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