Red Lobster (restaurant)

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Red Lobster
Industry Restaurant
Genre Casual dining
Founded March 1968 (1968-03)
Lakeland, Florida, U.S.
Founder Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby
Headquarters 450 S. Orange Avenue
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Number of locations
705 (2013)
Area served
United States
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
Key people
Kim Lopdrup (CEO)
Salli Setta (President)
Products Seafood, Chicken, Steaks, Pasta
Parent Golden Gate Capital
Footnotes / references

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.[3]

On August 6, 2014 Red Lobster announced their new headquarters location in CNL Center City Commons in Orlando, Florida.[4]


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.[5]

On March 29, 1994, Bill Darden died after an extended illness at the age of 75.[6]

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.[2]

The brand specializes in seafood, including lobster, shrimp, fish and squid.

New prototype[edit]

The new prototype design as seen at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana location.

In 2009, Red Lobster debuted its new "Bar Harbor" restaurant prototype modeled after coastal New England.[7] 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.[8]


A Gaithersburg, Maryland Red Lobster restaurant in September 2013.
A Red Lobster restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Darden 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Darden Restaurants, Inc. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Darden Restaurants, Inc. (May 29, 2011). "FY 2011 10-K". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Darden Completes Sale Of Red Lobster To Golden Gate Capital". MarketWatch. July 28, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Red Lobster announces location of new headquarters". Orlando Sentinel. August 6, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Dur coup pour la restauration au Québec et en Ontario". Radio-Canada Nouvelles. September 13, 1997. Retrieved May 18, 2012.  (In French.)
  6. ^ Christine Shenot (March 30, 1994). "Founder Of Red Lobster, William B. Darden, Dies". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Bar Harbor - Overview". Darden Concepts, Inc. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ Perla Trevizo (December 25, 2009). "Red Lobsters cook up fresher look". Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  9. ^ Benita D. Newton (September 26, 2003). "All-you-can-eat was too much". St. Petersburg Times Online. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 

External links[edit]