In 1979, Kingen sold Michael and Steve Snyder the rights to open a Red Robin in Yakima, Washington and The Snyder Group Company became Red Robin's first franchisee. In 1980, Red Robin opened a restaurant in Portland, Oregon. In 1983, Red Robin adopted a mascot named Red. In 1985, Red Robin boasted 175 restaurants when the corporate headquarters was moved from downtown Seattle to Irvine, California after CEO Kingen sold a controlling interest in Red Robin Corp. to Skylark Corporation of Japan and where Michael Snyder had Red Robin offices. With marginal successes and poor financial performance under Skylark's management, Kingen, then a minority owner, in 1995 stepped back into Red Robin with Michael Snyder to nurse the company back to profitability. In 2000, the company opened its 150th restaurant. The headquarters was moved to the Denver Tech Center. In 2000, Red Robin merged with the Snyder Group, and Snyder became president, chairman and CEO of the merged company. Snyder took the company public in 2002.
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