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Red Robin Picks Chicago for Chain’s First Virtual Restaurant

They’ll deliver burgers to several downtown neighborhoods

Red Robin’s gourmet burger
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Red Robin, the burger chain that last year closed all of its Chicago restaurants, has launched a delivery-only virtual restaurant, the first of its kind for the popular suburban chain. They’re calling it Red Robin Express and the food will come from the chain’s shuttered restaurant at 328 N. Michigan Avenue. They’ll deliver to these central neighborhoods: West Loop, Streeterville, Millennium Park, The Loop, Greektown, River North, Magnificent Mile, Fulton River District, and Printer's Row.

A news release calls the restaurant a “test” as they consider opening delivery-only spots in other locations. Chicago’s online menu shows a bevy of catering options including a build-your-own-burger bar, pretzel bites, and large salads for sharing. Office catering is a huge business, and while Red Robin’s restaurants didn’t succeed in five years in Chicago, perhaps this is a niche the company could exploit. The menu also includes many of its signature burgers including the teriyaki-glazed Banzai and Whiskey River BBQ. Crain’s reported that delivery charges will range from $3 to $8. While Red Robin will offer its own delivery service, they’ll also work with third parties such as Door Dash and Amazon.

Burger delivery has been a hit in Chicago where restaurants like Kuma’s Corner and WHISK have enjoyed success working with Grubhub and others. Virtual restaurants are a growing business — even Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises delivers poke bowls via ASAP Poke. However, there also have been failures. That most notable was in Lakeview where New York startup Green Summit closed its nine virtual restaurants after four months in Chicago.

Though the chain exited Chicago, there are still locations in the suburbs including in Skokie, North Riverside, Norridge, and Schaumburg. Many of Red Robin’s traditional brick and mortars already offer delivery. The Nation’s Restaurant News reported that 34 percent, or 191 of the chain’s 565 restaurants offer a delivery option. But for Chicagoans with cravings at their office desks, Red Robin Express could be a welcome addition.

Red Robin Express, (312) 883-4940, delivery only and serving the West Loop, Streeterville, Millennium Park, The Loop, Greektown, River North, Magnificent Mile, Fulton River District, and Printer's Row. Minimum delivery $10, open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays ; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

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