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Red Robin in Dover breaks sales records in first week

New challenges opening a restaurant during a pandemic

Emily Lytle
Dover Post
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews opened in Dover July 13.

For anyone who has been craving a Red Robin burger and anxiously eyeing the brightly colored restaurant at Capital Station in Dover, the wait is finally up.The restaurant celebrated its grand opening July 13 at 40 N. Dupont Highway (Route 13) near Division Street. 

“We did record-breaking sales for an opening week during this COVID-19,” said General Manager Javier Medina. He said the restaurant did more than double the average sales this week. 

“People are glad we’re here,” he said. “They love Red Robin. They’re happy that they don’t have to travel up north to satisfy their craving of a milkshake or a beer or a burger.”

While customers are eager to both dine in and order takeout from the popular restaurant chain making its debut to central Delaware, the opening hasn’t been without challenges. Medina said the restaurant was prepping to open in March when they were told to shut everything down.

“It was a shock,” he said. “We were ramping up since December, and come March we were just literally hours away from making some big decisions and spending a lot of money to get this place going.”

About half of the 140 people hired to start the restaurant left during that waiting period. Red Robin has a training program where experts come in from other states, but travel restrictions made that difficult. 

“[It was] one challenge after another, but we’re here, and we’re pushing through,” Medina said. 

The staff is at 75 people, but the restaurant will likely need to raise it to at least 100 to accommodate for breaks and vacation time. 

All positions are open, and anyone interested can look on Indeed.com or walk into the restaurant to set up an interview. 

Besides grappling with growing pains, the staff has closed off part of the dining room for 60% capacity, placed social distancing markers on the floor and upheld other precautions to keep people safe. 

Like other restaurants, Medina said they are dealing with shortages of supplies like plastic cutlery or gloves. “We’re going through supplies so fast we can’t keep up with the ordering,” he said. “We’re scrambling just about daily.”

At the last minute, the restaurant got a permit to open an outdoor seating area with eight tables. Another tented area will help organize curbside to-go meals. 

Medina thanked the community members for their patience. “Rest assured, we will figure it all out, and be the best we can be and anticipate needs and exceed expectations,” he said.

For more, visit the restaurant's website here.