Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Brian Lutz
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Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by Brian Lutz »

Made a visit to the local Red Robin tonight and saw that they have recently added Donato's Pizza to their menu. Not sure how well this fits into their model (can't say I've ever gone to Red Robin wanting a pizza) but with take out and delivery becoming a larger part of their business I suppose having pizza on the menu probably helps with that side of things.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by storewanderer »

I wonder if it is a frozen pizza or a fresh one.

They had a kid's pizza on the menu for years. I recall ordering it once about 25 years ago- it was not good at all, I think the sauce on it was ketchup.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by Alpha8472 »

https://ww2.donatos.com/how-the-red-rob ... -together/

The dough is delivered fresh to Red Robin. Red Robin then makes a fresh pizza in 8-10 minutes which is about the same as a burger. Pizza sales improve traffic and does not hurt burger sales. It also gives Red Robin something that they can deliver to customers who do not want to come into the restaurant.

There is one Red Robin near me at Sunvalley Mall in Concord, California that is entirely indoor. It has been closed ever since the mall shut down back in March. The mall is back open for indoor shopping, but Red Robin still has not opened. Perhaps it is closed for good.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by pseudo3d »

I don't know, the idea of pizza and hamburgers in sit-down restaurants isn't a new one, I remember Bubba's 33 (a chain owned by Texas Roadhouse with about two dozen locations) had both pizza and hamburgers (including one with a third of the burger being ground bacon). Good stuff.

Donatos I'm less familiar with, but the idea of delivery-tier pizza with frozen dough doesn't sound all that appetizing when paired with a "real" restaurant.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by storewanderer »

This may work okay actually. Given they have the prep time for a pizza down to the same amount of prep time for a burger, that is an important element to make this sort of thing flow with the rest of their operation. The main thing will be if people actually buy the pizza. Personally I'd take pizza over a burger any day but know a lot of people who don't really consider pizza to be a formal meal, more of a snack.

I always thought you needed fresh dough to get a pizza right. Whole Foods in South Lake Tahoe uses 100% frozen and defrosted dough for its store made hot pizza (no room to mix dough in that store which was built to be 365 but opened as high price Whole Foods) and the dough was actually so good I've started to buy it to make pizza at home. Trader Joe's also has some refrigerated pizza dough at about 60% lower cost than Whole Foods and I have bought some excess to freeze and I do not find freezing/defrosting the dough to impact the quality of the cooked pizza.

I think the main thing is as long as you start with 100% raw dough you are safe. I have seen some with pizza who try to use pre-formed and pre-baked or par-baked crusts to save labor/cut corners. That does not seem to work out so well. It yields a dry product.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by Brian Lutz »

The menu suggested ordering a 10" pizza as an appetizer, and it wouldn't surprise me if a lot the pizzas they do sell in-restaurant are being sold as appetizers. They probably also sell a decent number of them to families with multiple kids, since a 10" pizza can feed several children and are often a good "picky eater" option.

Another nice thing about this is that they offer a gluten free crust option. My sister in law has Celiac, so more gluten free options is always a good thing.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by Super S »

I noticed that, at least in the Portland market, they are airing a lot of commercials right now advertising the Donato's pizza. Red Robin is not a restaurant I eat at very often, and the addition of pizza won't change that. I do know that many fast food restaurants in Oregon and Washington still have not reopened for inside dining, but Red Robin doesn't really come to mind for food to go.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by babs »

Tried the pizza a few weeks ago as I had a free coupon. It was awful. My son called it Bowling Ally pizza. Thought that was a great description of it.
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by storewanderer »

babs wrote: September 1st, 2021, 5:52 pm Tried the pizza a few weeks ago as I had a free coupon. It was awful. My son called it Bowling Ally pizza. Thought that was a great description of it.
Poor move for this Donato outfit to serve a substandard product with their name on it. Should they ever open freestanding units in these markets, some people will already have a negative impression...
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Re: Red Robin adds Donato's pizza to the menu

Post by storewanderer »

Tried one of these pizzas. Well it was free with a $10 purchase. I went in with very low expectations.

Trying to be as objective as possible: the crust tastes okay; it is very soft and is not rubbery or anything, it seems like it should have been crisp, but was not crisp. The sauce was okay. The cheese was okay. The toppings were very okay; I'd rate the sausage as above average. I'm not sure what kind of oven they are cooking this in but I think it might not be the right oven. I would not go out of my way for this but it was certainly okay. Based on this I'd place this "Donato" chain somewhere below a Domino's in quality and somewhere above a Little Caesar's in quality. Something tells me that is not the spot "Donato" thinks they belong in and they ought to re-work this program to improve the quality of this product if they want to have any brand equity out west.

Off topic the thing that was awful in this meal was the french fries. I'm not sure what happened but these fries... just did not taste good. They were very odd; they were dry, limp, and not in any way shape or form greasy. They were also largely unseasoned, but frankly seasoning did not save these fries.
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