A bit over twenty years ago, when I was an assistant manager at Friendly’s Restaurant in Orlando Florida, I had a watering hole located very near my restaurant. That watering hole was a chain called Red Robin. All I remember was I drank there when I was twenty-one years old with friends, many female, who may have been less than twenty-one years old. Apparently, Red Robin had been reported for serving under age patrons. They were fined. We continued to patronize Red Robin. They were fined again, this time more than the first. We continued to imbibe at the neighborhood establishment. Then they were closed. It was rumored that they were closed due to repeated violations of the law. Although I did not serve any underage person alcohol, I felt as though I contributed to the problem.
I had not seen a Red Robin for the ensuing two decades. Then they opened one up on Scenic Highway in Lawrenceville. So my friend of twenty two years and I went there for dinner. I do not recall a lot from twenty one years ago, but I am pretty sure that my watering hole did not look like a Chucky Cheese. I am equally certain that there was not a large costumed bird walking around scaring people. The bird seemed to be blind. An employee was leading this freakish creature around by the wing. I do remember there being very good looking young girls back then, and this did not change. The change was the fact that I was not a dirty old man when I leered at them twenty one years ago. The place was also full of families, teenagers and even the elderly on oxygen.
They proclaim to have the best burgers. We ordered our burgers from our friendly waitress after she gave us a brief tour of the menu including suggestions. She asked us: “you want that with pink or without?” I love that. It is a rare establishment that correctly cooks a medium rare burger. These folks make no assertion that they will do that. They will bring you a burger with or without pink. My friend ordered their Royal Red Robin, a burger topped with a fried egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato. I ordered the Santa Fe, a burger with roasted poblano, guacamole, fried tortilla strips, and chipotle mayonnaise. Both were delivered pink, as ordered. They also came with a bottomless portion French fries. Two large Blue Moon beers accompanied our burgers. Everything was very tasty. The service was friendly and efficient.
Although the experience was very different from two decades ago, it was an enjoyable meal. And they still didn’t card me or my friend.