There's a new restaurant in the mall in Augusta, just across from Kohl's/Circuit City, etc. Red Robin is known for their gourmet burgers. I saw the place a week or so ago to get to get the "A Sporting Good Time" cache, and decided that it would be a good place to bring my Mother for the traditional "take-Mom-out-for-lunch-on-her-birthday". OK - we get there, walk up to the door, and one of the 2 people out front in Red Robin uniforms asks "May I help you"? Um, are you open, I ask? Well, no, he said. We're training staff right now, and are only open to family, friends and by invitation.

Sheesh, I said. We drove quite a way to bring my Mother here for her 85th birthday. Well, he said, can you come back in 1/2 an hour? I'll let you in then.

OK, no problem, and we went back to the car to share the newspaper. Fifteen minutes later he comes to the car and asks if we're ready. Sure!

As we get to the front of the restaurant, he asks us to wait a minute, and explains that the staff is in training. He gives us 4 coupons (there were 4 of us), explaining that 3 were for burgers and one for a salad. He also gives us a dessert coupon. And then tells us that the meal will be FREE!

To make a story short, the meal was excellent, and we plan on going back. The waiter brought us a bill at the end, explaining - for training - that this is what we would normally pay (about $45) and then said, "but there's no charge". We also got a sample "Orange Smoothie", they had a "birthday chant" for Mom, and she got balloons and a complimentary sundae.

OK - was I paid for this "unsolicited testimonial"? Well, not exactly. I would have recommended it anyway. But the story is longer because of our experience.

Red Robin officially opens April 3, but maybe you 'll get lucky before then like we did.