Red Robin

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This article is about the restaurant chain. For other uses, see Red Robin (disambiguation).
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc.
Type Public
Industry Restaurant
Founded 1969 Seattle, Washington,
Headquarters Greenwood Village, Colorado (2000)
Number of locations 450 (December 2010)[1]
Products Casual Dining

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers or simply Red Robin is a chain of casual dining restaurants founded in 1969 in Seattle, Washington, and now headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado. All Red Robin restaurants are run under the principle of four cornerstones: People, Smiling Burgers, Core Values, and the Gift of Time.


The original Red Robin stood at the corner of Furhman and Eastlake Avenues E. in Seattle, at the southern end of the University Bridge. This building dates from 1940 and was first called Sam's Tavern. The owner, Sam, sang in a barbershop quartet and could frequently be heard singing the song "When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)". He liked the song so much that he eventually changed the name to Sam's Red Robin.[2]

A Red Robin restaurant in Tukwila, Washington
Red Robin burger with fries

In 1969, local Seattle restaurant entrepreneur Gerry Kingen bought the restaurant and expanded it. The business dropped the "Sam's" and simply became Red Robin. The first restaurant was 1,200 sq ft (110 sq m). It was a favored hangout for University of Washington students.[3][4] Kingen continued to operate the location as a tavern for a few years, but later added hamburgers to the menu, eventually giving fans 28 different burgers to choose from, and sales skyrocketed.

After 10 years of building the Red Robin concept Kingen decided to franchise [5] it. The decision to franchise the Red Robin concept proved to be a significant one in the development of the chain. Through franchising, and through one franchisee in particular, the chain drew its strength. Kingen's association with the company he founded later ended, but the franchising system endured, creating disciples of the gourmet burger format that extended the physical presence and geographic reach of the enterprise for beyond the efforts of its creator.

In 1979, Kingen sold Michael and Steve Snyder the rights to open a Red Robin in Yakima, Washington and The Snyder Group Company became Red Robin's first franchisee. In 1980, Red Robin opened a restaurant in Portland, Oregon. In 1983, Red Robin adopted a mascot named Red. In 1985, Red Robin boasted 175 restaurants when the corporate headquarters was moved from downtown Seattle to Irvine, California after CEO Kingen sold a controlling interest in Red Robin Corp. to Skylark Corporation of Japan and where Michael Snyder had Red Robin offices. With marginal successes and poor financial performance under Skylark's management, Kingen, then a minority owner, in 1995 stepped back into Red Robin with Michael Snyder to nurse the company back to profitability. In 2000, the company opened its 150th restaurant. Headquarters was moved to the Denver Tech Center. In 2000, Red Robin merged with the Snyder Group, and Snyder became president, chairman and CEO of the merged company. Snyder took the company public in 2002. The company has more than 450 restaurants with combined sales close to US$1,000,000,000.

The original Red Robin closed on March 21, 2010 due to prohibitive maintenance costs for the old building.[6][7][8][9] It was demolished on August 28, 2014.[10]

Recently, Red Robin has added a "simplified" line of restaurants called Red Robin's Burger Works featuring quick service and with locations in Washington D.C., Illinois, Ohio and Colorado.[11]


On March 1, 2005, the company corrected its accounting for leases in light of views expressed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[12] On August 15, 2005, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc was charged for issuing a series of materially false and misleading statements regarding Red Robin's business and prospects and concealed improper self-dealing by its CEO,[13] and settled the case for US$1,500,000.

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