Red Robin’s foray into off-premises dining has a new look. The casual dining brand unveiled a first-of-its-kind, delivery-only test concept in downtown Chicago, located at 328 North Michigan Ave. Red Robin’s Express test store will operate without a traditional storefront, the company said.
“As the demand for non-traditional dining and off-premise services continue to grow, downtown Chicago presented the perfect location for us to test our new delivery-only concept,” said Jason Rusk, vice president of business transformation at Red Robin, in a statement. “We are excited to give our brand fans a new and convenient way to enjoy the indulgent, craveable Red Robin food they know and love in an entirely new way.”
All online delivery and catering orders placed through the new location will be self-delivered by Red Robin Express. It will also offer third-party delivery through options such as Amazon and DoorDash.
The test location will featured many of the brand’s signature items, including the Red’s Tavern Double, Royal Red Robin, and Banzai burgers. Guests can also order from Red Robin’s full catering menu, which features its newly created Gourmet Burger Bar. A la carte options such as Pub Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Pretzel Bites, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and desserts are also available.
The concept is taking over one of the chain’s 12 closed Burger Works. In fall 2016, Red Robin shuttered nine of the units and rebranded three others as Red Robin Express.
Red Robin reported third-quarter net income of $2.7 million versus a net loss of $1.3 million in the same period last year. The chain’s same-store sales declined 0.1 percent in the quarter, and Red Robin announced it was planning to halt growth after 2018 to focus on operations.
During a conference call following the third-quarter earnings report, Carin Stutz, chief operating officer and executive vice president, said the company’s rollout of online ordering at company restaurants was nearly complete, and that 98 percent of stores have call-center support. Curbside delivery is also currently available in more than 50 percent of locations and Red Robin sees that maxing out into the low 60s “due to lease restrictions” in the near future. At the end of the quarter, third-party delivery was live in close to 50 percent of Red Robins, with anywhere from one to three providers.
“We have commented on the fact that this is not the most profitable way to get food to our guests when and where they want it, but it is providing additional visibility to our guests that they can get Red Robin to go,” Stutz said. “Third-party sales have almost doubled this quarter, counting for about 110 basis points of the 7.6 percent in off-premise sales. While we like the visibility, we are piloting self-delivery and will learn about it as quickly as we can.”