Red Robin's Unexpected Menu Addition Has Everyone Talking

While other restaurants have chosen to continue to streamline menus in an attempt to recoup lost revenue, national burger chain Red Robin has decided to take a different route to lure in customers. Eat This, Not That! reports that the company recently began debuting pizza on menus in select locations across the United States. In partnership with regional pizza company Donatos Pizza, the pies were initially tested back in the fall of 2019 in a handful of Red Robin restaurants in Ohio, North Carolina, and Arizona.

After reporting initial losses during the spring of 2020, Red Robin has finally received some good news, allowing them to restart the planned rollout. The company had streamlined its menu following a 47.1 percent decrease in sales compared to the previous year in the week ending on May 24th. Red Robin CEO Paul Murphy recently announced that the company saw record numbers during the quarter ending on July 12th, with a 208.7 percent increase in off-premise sales. After these encouraging developments, Red Robin decided to begin relaunching the partnership with Donatos Pizza.

The partnership was initially planned to be complete by 2022

FSR Magazine states that the partnership between Red Robin and Donatos Pizza was initially planned to be launched more widely earlier in the year, but was temporarily suspended during March of 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This decision was part of a series of money-saving measures taken by the burger chain, including pausing all non-essential spending on things like restaurant redesigns, IT upgrades, and company growth; and making cuts to executive salaries and board member compensation. FSR Magazine states the partnership with Donatos Pizza would have cost Red Robin $145,000 in initial capital investment, another $20,000 before the launch, and $30,000 in marketing for each location it was implemented in. The project was on track to be completed sometime in 2022 before the March suspension, with 250 locations planned to be included in the partnership.

Jonathan Muhtar, the chief concept officer at Red Robin, told Forbes that the partnership with Donatos Pizza came about after the burger chain was looking at increasing delivery sales and to add pizza to the menu, but realized they did not have the expertise to make it happen. They approached Donatos Pizza, who was performing well in their region but lacked the infrastructure and supply chain to grow. The pair found that they would each benefit from working together and the happy union was formed.