On our trips to Washington state we discovered the Red Robin restaurants. They began in Seattle during the 1940s. The food was always good; not terribly expensive. The restaurants were clean, bright, with interesting posters, photographs and artwork on the walls. And the staff was unfailingly cheerful. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the helpfulness of many employees in Washington state initially took us by surprise. So it was easy to assume that the positive vibe we experienced at Red Robin was simply part of the cultural fabric of the Northwest. Then Red Robin opened a restaurant in Millbury and we gave it a whirl. With the exception of the southern New England accents, we could have been back in Greater Seattle!
Last night we stopped at Red Robin on our way home from Rhode Island. Friday night found them busy and bustling. The gal at the desk told us we would have about a twenty minute wait. It turned out to be closer to twenty-five, but that was close enough. While we waited, Chuck and I entertained ourselves by watching the Red Sox game on the television sets and listening to the names of diners being called when their tables were ready. When I was a kid, my Dad always gave our last name to the host. Nowadays, folks tend to give their first name, us included. (The exception would be when we call and make a reservation or use a service like Open Table.) As the names were called out, we began pretending famous people were in the house. We would hear “Taylor, party of two.” and one of us would exclaim “Taylor Swift is here!” We kept this up with rapid conversions from ordinary people to mostly young, hip celebrities including Matt Damon, Lindsay Lohan, Kenny Chesney, Josh Beckett and so on. The one that stumped us was “Julie, party of four.” We wracked our brains for a contemporary celebrity named Julie. Chuck finally offered Julie Harris and I volunteered Julie Andrews. At that point we felt really, really old! But the time sure had flown by!
When we were comfortably seated in a booth, Chuck noticed that the staff had something embroidered on the sleeve of their polo shirts. It read “Honor, Integrity, Continually Seeking Knowledge and Having Fun”. Turns out that’s what Red Robin describes as their core values. No wonder we like Red Robin!