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Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc.
Headquarters: Greenwood Village, Colorado
Number of locations: 450 (December 2010)
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is a chain of casual dining restaurants founded in 1969 in Seattle, Washington, and now headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado.
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 barber shop 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.
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 square feet (110 m2). It was a favored hangout for University of Washington students. Kingen continued to operate the location as a tavern for a few years, but later added hamburgers to the menu, and sales skyrocketed.
In 1979, two Red Robin regulars, Michael and Steve Snyder, decided to open their own Red Robin in Yakima, Washington. 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, the corporate headquarters was moved from downtown Seattle to suburban Denver after Kingen sold a controlling interest in Red Robin Corp. to the Skylark (restaurant) 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. Michael Snyder eventually took over as Chairman, CEO and President of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a newly formed company. Snyder took the company public in 2002. The company has 464 restaurants with combined sales close to $1,000,000,000. Red Robin was named one of the top 5 best ''first date'' restaurants by a respectable food magazine in 2012. The original Red Robin closed on March 21, 2010 due to prohibitive maintenance costs for the old building.