Lakeland, Florida, U.S.
|Founder(s)||Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby|
|Headquarters||1000 Darden Center Drive
Orlando, Florida, U.S. 32837
|Number of locations||705 (2013)|
|Area served||United States
United Arab Emirates
|Key people||Kim Lopdrup (CEO)
Salli Setta (President)
|Products||Seafood, Chicken, Steaks, Pasta|
|Parent||Golden Gate Capital|
Red Lobster is an American casual dining restaurant chain that is headquartered in Orlando, Florida. The company has operations in Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Japan, in addition to the United States. As of February 24, 2013, there were 705 Red Lobster locations worldwide. Golden Gate Capital has been Red Lobster's parent company since it was acquired from Darden Restaurants on July 28, 2014.
Red Lobster was founded in March 1968 by entrepreneurs Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby. Originally billed as a "Harbor for Seafood Lovers", the first restaurant in Lakeland, Florida, was followed by several others throughout the southeast. In 1970, General Mills acquired Red Lobster as a five-unit company. With new backing, the chain expanded rapidly in the 1980s.
Red Lobster entered Canada in the 1980s, in many cases by buying Ponderosa restaurant locations. The company generally maintains between 25 and 30 locations in Canada, the bulk in larger urban centres in Ontario (across Southern Ontario plus one in Sudbury in Northern Ontario) with a smaller number in larger urban centres in all three Prairie provinces. It exited the Quebec market in September 1997 due to financial losses and never attempted to enter the market in British Columbia.
On March 29, 1994, Bill Darden died after an extended illness at the age of 75.
In 1995, Red Lobster (along with Olive Garden and other sister chains), became part of Darden Restaurants, Inc.. During that time, General Mills decided to release Darden into an independent, publicly traded corporation.
Red Lobster Restaurant in Yonkers, New York.
The Red Lobster in Kitchener, Canada. This is one of the Ponderosa remakes, as are most Canadian Red Lobster restaurants.
The Red Lobster in London, Canada. This one is also a Ponderosa remake, and also has an addition to the right, as it was added on when the Dundas location in London closed, around the late 80s.
In 2009, Red Lobster debuted its new "Bar Harbor" restaurant prototype modeled after coastal New England. The new exterior features include shingle and stone towers, signal flags and Adirondack-style benches. The interior updates include dark wood paneling, warm-toned fabrics, soft lighting, and nautical decor and artwork. Ironically, there are only four Red Lobster restaurants in New England itself, all of which are located in western Connecticut closer to the New York state line.
Red Lobster has offered an endless snow crab leg promotion twice in its history. However, in 2003, the promotion resulted in parent company Darden Restaurants taking a $3 million charge to third quarter earnings, resulting in president Edna Morris' departure from the company. The ill-timed promotion was launched amid high wholesale crab leg prices. The chain also underestimated how many times a guest would order more. Further complicating matters at the restaurant level was the amount of time a guest spent table-side in the restaurant cracking crab legs. This resulted in increased wait times in the lobby and overall diminished guest capacity per hour.
- "Darden 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Darden Restaurants, Inc. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (May 29, 2011). "FY 2011 10-K". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- "Darden Completes Sale Of Red Lobster To Golden Gate Capital". MarketWatch. July 28,2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- "Dur coup pour la restauration au Québec et en Ontario". Radio-Canada Nouvelles. September 13, 1997. Retrieved May 18, 2012. (In French.)
- Christine Shenot (March 30, 1994). "Founder Of Red Lobster, William B. Darden, Dies". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- "Bar Harbor - Overview". Darden Concepts, Inc. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- Perla Trevizo (December 25, 2009). "Red Lobsters cook up fresher look". timesfreepress.com. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- Benita D. Newton (September 26, 2003). "All-you-can-eat was too much". St. Petersburg Times Online. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2012)|
- Official website
- Red Lobster's Canadian website
- Red Lobster's Japanese website
- Darden Restaurants, Inc. website