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Red Robin hires Brian Sullivan as culinary chief amid menu revamp

Sullivan was the longtime top chef at California Pizza Kitchen, where he worked with Red Robin CEO G.J. Hart.
Brian Sullivan Red Robin chef
Brian Sullivan spent 34 years at California Pizza Kitchen. / Photo courtesy of Red Robin

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has hired a new top chef as it looks to revamp its menu. 

Brian Sullivan joins the chain as VP of culinary and beverage innovation after a 34-year run at California Pizza Kitchen, where he began as a kitchen manager and rose to SVP of culinary innovation. He was let go in a C-suite shakeup late last year.

He joins Red Robin amid a turnaround effort under new CEO G.J. Hart. The two worked together at the pizza chain while Hart was CEO.

“I enjoyed working with Brian during my time at California Pizza Kitchen and consider him one of the best culinary minds in the industry,” Hart said in a statement. “Menu quality and innovation is a major component of our comeback plan and Brian and his team are making great progress on menu enhancements we will roll out later this year.”

Specifically, Red Robin plans to improve its burgers by installing flat-top grills. Hart has also mentioned refreshing the milkshakes and expanding the entree selection at the 510-unit sit-down chain. 

At California Pizza Kitchen, Sullivan helped shape the chain’s innovative approach to pizza, often incorporating global flavors. He recently helped launch CPK’s first burger, an experience that could serve him well in his new gig. 

“I am excited to join an iconic brand like Red Robin, known for their wide variety of gourmet burgers, bottomless fries, and creative beverages,” Sullivan said in a statement. “We are going to create an amazing menu and have a lot of fun!”

Sullivan is part of a virtually brand-new leadership team at Red Robin under Hart, who has hired a new CFO and chief legal officer since taking over in September. The chain’s COO, CIO and chief concept officer have left.

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