Red Robin coming to nest

Restaurant: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers becomes the newest restaurant to make a home near Route 175 and Dobbin Road.

March 24, 2003|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is opening a new location in Columbia next week, the newest outlet to join a burgeoning group of restaurants clustered around Dobbin Road and Route 175.

The restaurant in the Columbia Crossing II shopping center is scheduled to open March 31, offering 202 seats in a 6,500- square-foot facility, and bringing 100 jobs to the area.

The location is part of the Colorado-based chain's effort to expand on the East Coast, spokeswoman Kim McBee said.

"We're growing throughout the country," she said. "I know there's plans for more on the East Coast. We plan to put a couple more in [Maryland and Virginia]."

This won't be Red Robin's first restaurant in Columbia - there was a franchised location on the other side of Route 175 at Dobbin Road between 1984 and 1986. It closed a year after police reported they'd initiated drug buys as part of a sting operation at that and several other Columbia restaurants. McBee said it was the only location in the state, and that the owner was an investor, not a restaurant operator. The location is now occupied by Rocky Run Tap & Grill.

This time, Red Robin will join a group of restaurants in the area, including a new LongHorn Steakhouse in the same shopping center, and Don Pablo's, Romano's Macaroni Grill and La Madeline, which are in the Columbia Crossing shopping center.

Jordan Naftal, president of the county chapter of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said that area is attracting a lot of restaurants, most of them chains, but that the area could benefit from independent ventures.

"I would like to see some original things, but I think there's room [for more restaurants]," he said. "From the growth I see and the construction that's nonstop ... it seems to me the area would support another restaurant. If they have a good product and they do a good job executing, they'll have their share."

Red Robin is a casual dining restaurant with a twist on the burger-and-fries concept. Anything that can fit in a bun, whether it's ground beef, pot roast or fish, can be a burger, and toppings run the gamut from jalapeno peppers to pineapple slices.

Its signature dish is, of course, burgers and all-you-can-eat steak fries with old-fashioned milkshakes and malts. The concept began in Seattle, and has grown in 33 years to 200 restaurants nationwide. Half of them are franchised.

Red Robin started expanding its corporate-owned facilities to Maryland in 2000 when it opened in Owings Mills. It has locations in Annapolis, Gaithersburg and Germantown.

McBee said the company decided to open in Columbia because of the growth of the area.

"There's a lot of people that come to that area," she said. "I'm sure all the restaurants will do well ... in high retail areas that draw people for shopping. I think that's where we've been very successful."

As part of the company's grand opening, it will donate a portion of proceeds from every burger sold to the children's ward of Howard County General Hospital, McBee said.

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