Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. has eliminated the chief operating officer position as part of an internal restructuring of operations, the company said Monday.

The COO role was eliminated as of June 24, the company said. However, Eric Houseman, who held the COO position and also the title of president, will remain employed with Red Robin until Aug. 1.

Red Robin officials said the company does not plan to hire a new president, but it plans to hire at least one senior vice president of operations, who will report to chief executive Steve Carley as part of the executive team.

The company also previously announced plans to hire two more regional vice presidents, which would bring the field leadership team to eight regional vice presidents.

Houseman started with Red Robin in 1988 as a bartender in Bellingham, Wash., working his way up the ladder to the corporate office. From 1995 to 2000, he served in various regional operations management positions with the casual-dining chain, and in 2005 he was named president and COO, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

His departure is not related to any disagreement with the company’s accounting, operating policies or practices, Red Robin said in the recent SEC filing.

The announcement comes just weeks after Todd Brighton, Red Robin’s senior vice president and chief development officer, announced plans to step down in July.

Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Red Robin has been working on efficiencies and unit-level labor management for several years as part of an ongoing brand transformation that has included a revamp of the menu and presentation, a remodel program, and improvements in service.

For the April 21-ended first quarter, Red Robin officials said the chain has improved restaurant margins by 90 basis points to 22.4 percent, in part with help from a 5.4-percent increase in same-store sales resulting from increases in both traffic and average check.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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