Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bonney Lake Red Robin - Comparison to McDonalds

After Puppygarten III was finished, Kathy wanted to go across Highway 410 to the Wal-Mart Super Center to pick up some bobby pins to help put up her hair because Yogi likes to chew it. We decided to grab lunch and went to the Red Robin in the same little shopping center as Petco. It was our first time at a Red Robin.

One reason I was interested is because McDonalds, (MCD) is one of the largest positions in my personal mutual fund. I would probably not make the same decision today, (to be overweight on MCD), but it was a long time ago. Red Robin, (RRGB), has strongly outperformed McDonalds over the past five years.

How was our experience? Pretty good, we intend to return. The fact they have a gluten free bun that is pretty good and a gluten free beer resonates with Kathy. I like the fact they have alternatives to beef burgers, including a vegan option, (no I am not vegan and do eat beef, just not much of it). They have studied the most common food allergies and can work with customers to accommodate their needs.

Most of the tables were full even when we left at 2:45 PM

I had the Wild Pacific Crab Cake Burger on a whole grain bun, which was great and messy, (thank you RRGB for the extra napkins). They allow substitutions, so I substituted a Chili Chili bowl for the fries. It was a good chili, not a great chili, I had the red onions and skipped the tortilla strips.  Kathy had the mushroom burger with no burger on a gluten free bun and a side of bottomless broccoli and actually did eat a second bowl.

In terms of choice, RRGB clearly outguns, MCD, but you are paying a premium. Right now the economy is doing pretty well, so it is no surprise people will pay that price level. Over the long haul, it is hard to say. Think Baskin-Robins 31 flavors against Cold Stone Creamery.

On the other hand, if you are in a hurry, MCD blows RRGB away big time. I was concerned we were going to be late for Petco's Puppy Play time. It took a long time for our order to arrive. Also, my ice tea was not refilled once. That makes a $38.20 bill less attractive. We will come back at least once more. My understanding is that they hope to put ordering tablets at the tables. That should give the server staff more time to refill ice teas since they will have less time taking the order. We shall see, anyone who knows us knows we value automation, but it is all about the implementation.

The bottom line. When you look at the fundamentals, RRGB is a good place to get a burger, but I am not yet ready to invest in the company.

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