Red Robin doesn’t want you to know what you’re eating. The family restaurant has no nutritional information on its website, and when you ask for it, they tell you a whole bunch of PR nonsense.
When Gilbert, a Consumerist reader, emailed them to complain, Red Robin bithely responded that while they won’t tell you what’s in the food,
- “All of our menu items can be customized by adding or deleting any combination of ingredients to meet taste and dietary preferences, so please ask your server to modify your order to meet your special preferences and they’ll be happy to assist you.”
Gee thanks, Red Robin. Go swallow a fork. But we won’t tell you its nutritional content. Hahaha. You’ll be writhing on the floor, Red Robin, both choking and wondering whether the utensil exceeds your RDA of forks.
Gilbert’s screed in response to their vacuum packed reply is priceless, and it’s inside…
Gilbert wrote Red Robin:
“It disgusts me that you don’t have easily-accessible nutrition information available for the public to view on this site. When I asked the wait staff, they had no idea what the caloric value of my Garden Burger was. If the information happens to be available on the “Menu” portion of your site, that part is consistently down, only bouncing me to the “Locate” portion. Not having this information available to me will prevent me from being a Red Robin customer in the future.”
Red Robin wrote back:
- “Hi Gilbert,
Thank you for contacting Red Robin Gourmet Burgers regarding the nutritional content of our menu items.
At Red Robin, we focus on serving quality ingredients, and are committed to consistently providing our Guests and Team Members the highest quality menu offerings. While we currently do not offer nutritional content information, we do recognize the importance of our Guests being able to select and order menu items that meet their taste and dietary preferences. All of our menu items can be customized by adding or deleting any combination of ingredients to meet taste and dietary preferences, so please ask your server to modify your order to meet your special preferences and they’ll be happy to assist you.
Thank you again for contacting us and being a Red Robin Guest!”
Thank you for the canned answer. If Red Robin were really committed to helping people “satisfy their taste and dietary preferences” it would take the necessary steps make this information available. It’s a blatant contradiction so say you’re “helping” people when you’re not even providing them with the tools to make the right decisions about their health. It’s not rocket science.
It seems more likely that you’re committed to keeping the information withheld from the public so that they remain in the dark as to just how unhealthy Red Robin restaurants truly are. It’s fine that you’re unhealthy. Nobody expects a burger joint to be the holy grail of all things fat and calorie-free. There are, however, people who work hard to make restaurants like yours available to themselves as a reward for maintaining a diet consistent with a greater probability of longevity. All you do is alienate them. In addition, there are those who have dietary concerns (sodium intake, for example) whom you alienate as well. How do you help these people?
Do you honestly think you’re going to lose your core audience by making this information available? I don’t. In fact, it’s likely focus groups and market research would yield probable gains in your audience overall. Try it and see.
I feel you’re large enough a chain to be held responsible for providing this information. And no, I’m not arbitrarily choosing “size” as a factor varying directly with your level of responsibility. Put simply, nobody expects Mom’s Cafe to shoulder the costs associated with providing this information. However, restaurants like Red Robin could certainly provide a benchmark by which people could judge Mom’s in the future. Trust me, I’d rather go to the restaurant that’s going to help me meet my goals, not hinder them (especially with PR spin as in this case).
I’m not a fanatic about health. I’m just a regular person, age 18-35, college education, $35,000 – $60,000 annual income, 1.2 cars, and part of a family with 2.3 kids and 1.6 dogs, who happens to be more conscious about what I put in my body than the next guy. And it wasn’t so much that my 0.7 fathers ate a burger which contained a meat patty, a fried egg, cheese and bacon (hold the lettuce and tomato, please) and two baskets of fries; it was that he had no idea of the risks associated with doing so. By my estimates he ate no less than 3,000 calories in ONE SITTING!
All along, my 3-year-old niece, who was celebrating her birthday that day (free sunday!), was watching and acquiring eating habits likely to have an adverse effect on her entire life. No, it’s not your responsibility to alter my niece’s habits. It is, however, your responsibility to help those in her support network make wise decisions about not only how they can set an example, but also about how they can provide her with a healthy diet.
So don’t talk to me about commitment to diet. Talk to me about how you’re going to rewrite your business plan to accommodate the changing dietary needs (and by that I don’t mean more focus groups about which other fried embryo you can slap on a grilled animal smothered in the sliced remains of yet another fried animal) of people all over the country while still showing profitable growth. If you can’t do that, then what sets you apart from Denny’s?
Oh, that’s right. “Taste.”
— BEN POPKEN