Former El Pollo Loco CEO Stephen Carley takes the reins of Red Robin

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Red Robin may have been pegged by Zagat as one of the country's best full-service chains, but the Greenwood Village-based restaurant company slipped in second-quarter earnings, and the major investors sacked the CEO, Dennis Mullen.

Taking the reins of the bottomless fry-hawking joint is Stephen Carley, formerly CEO of another chain, El Pollo Loco.

Carley joined El Pollo Loco in 2001. Under his rule, the chain saw explosive growth because of creative marketing stunts like a promotion that pitted a soft chicken taco and a crispy chicken taco against one another -- and increased sales of both. The food of El Pollo Loco made debuts at Universal Studios and on TV, on an episode of The Apprentice. And the brand also revamped the look of its restaurants, updating the interior to feature "contemporary Mexican design with multiple textures, geometric shapes, natural wood and Aztec design elements," which sounds suspiciously like changing the restaurant to make it look more like Chipotle. But, hey, if it puts money in the bank and hands of investors, that's what counts.

Carley takes control of Red Robin on September 13.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.