Red Lobster

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Red Lobster Hospitality LLC
GenreCasual dining
FoundedMarch 22, 1968; 53 years ago (1968-03-22)
Lakeland, Florida
FoundersBill Darden
Charley Woodsby
HeadquartersOrlando, Florida
Number of locations
749 (2019)
Area served
Key people
Kim Lopdrup (CEO)
Salli Setta (President)
ProductsSeafood, Chicken, Steaks, Pasta
RevenueUS$2.6 billion (2018)[2]
Number of employees
ParentDarden Restaurants (1995–2014)
Golden Gate Capital (2014–present)
Footnotes / references

Red Lobster Hospitality LLC is an American casual dining restaurant chain headquartered in Orlando, Florida. The company has operations across most of the United States, as well as in China, Ecuador, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates; as of June 23, 2020, the company had 719 locations worldwide.[6][7] Golden Gate Capital has been Red Lobster's parent company since it was acquired from Darden Restaurants on July 28, 2014.[8]

On August 6, 2014, Red Lobster announced its new headquarters location in CNL Center City Commons in Orlando.[9] On March 6, 2015, Red Lobster officially opened the Restaurant Support Center.[10]


Formation and growth[edit]

The first Red Lobster restaurant was opened on January 18, 1968, in Lakeland, Florida, by entrepreneurs Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby.[11][12] The oft-quoted date of March 1968 is based on the March 27, 1968 incorporation of Red Lobster Inns of America, Inc. (now GMRI, Inc.) in the Florida Secretary of State's Office.[13]

Originally billed as a "Harbor for Seafood Lovers", the first restaurant was followed by four others throughout the southeastern United States. In 1970, General Mills acquired Red Lobster as a five-unit company. With new backing, the chain expanded rapidly in the 1980s.

A Lobsterfest duo meal

Red Lobster entered Canada in the 1980s, in many cases by buying Ponderosa restaurant locations. Currently, Red Lobster 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 British Columbia[14]

On March 29, 1994, Bill Darden died, after an extended illness, at the age of 75.[15]

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.[5]

2009 prototype and sale[edit]

The "Bar Harbor" 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 architecture.[16] 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.[17]

On December 19, 2013, Darden Restaurants announced plans to sell or spin off the Red Lobster brand, citing pressure from stock investors.[18] This was in direct response to Darden's going over budget on a new digital platform.[19]

On May 12, 2014, Darden announced that as part of its spinoff of Red Lobster, it was converting the co-located Red Lobster and Olive Garden locations into standalone Olive Garden locations.[20] On May 16, 2014, Darden announced it would be selling the Red Lobster seafood restaurant chain to Golden Gate Capital for US$2.1 billion.[21] Darden announced the completion of the sale of Red Lobster on July 28, 2014.[22]

On August 6, 2014, Red Lobster announced their new headquarters location in CNL Center City Commons in Orlando.[9] On March 6, 2015, Red Lobster officially opened the Restaurant Support Center.[10]


A basket of Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster

Red Lobster has offered an endless snow crab leg promotion twice in its history (as of September 2003). However, in 2003, the promotion resulted in its 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 customer would order more. Further complicating matters at the restaurant level was the amount of time customers spent table-side in the restaurant cracking crab legs. This resulted in increased wait times in the lobby and overall diminished customer capacity per hour.[23]

In February 2016, American singer Beyoncé referenced Red Lobster in her single "Formation". After unexpectedly releasing the single and performing it during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, Red Lobster reported a 33% sales increase due to the reference.[24]

Red Lobster introduced a new Daily Deals menu in 2020, featuring Endless Shrimp Mondays and more deals.[25]


The brand specializes in seafood, including crab, fish, lobster, mollusks, and shrimp. It also serves chicken, desserts, pasta, and steak.[26][promotional source?]

Lobster bisque controversy[edit]

In February 2016, Red Lobster was exposed for using less expensive langostino, along with Maine lobster, in their lobster bisque recipe.[27]


As of June 23, 2020, the company had 719 locations worldwide. These locations span 44 US states, China, Canada, Ecuador, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our International Locations". Red Lobster Hospitality LLC. 2016. Archived from the original on 13 June 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Darden 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Darden Restaurants, Inc. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Darden Restaurants, Inc. (May 29, 2011). "FY 2011 10-K". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Red Lobster Seafood Restaurants | US". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  7. ^ a b "International Franchises | Red Lobster Seafood Restaurants". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  8. ^ "Darden Completes Sale Of Red Lobster To Golden Gate Capital". MarketWatch. July 28, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Red Lobster announces location of new headquarters". Orlando Sentinel. August 6, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Red Lobster debuts new downtown HQ". Orlando Sentinel. March 6, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  11. ^ "Red Lobster turns 50: Celebrate with Cheddar Bay Biscuits and a year of free food". Today.
  12. ^ "9 Things You Didn't Know About Red Lobster".
  13. ^ Darden Restaurants, Inc. report to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (PDF). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Red Lobster ferme ses 14 restaurants du Québec" (PDF). BAnQ (in French). La Presse. September 14, 1997. p. A1-A2.
  15. ^ Christine Shenot (March 30, 1994). "Founder Of Red Lobster, William B. Darden, Dies". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  16. ^ "Bar Harbor - Overview". Darden Concepts, Inc. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  17. ^ Trevizo, Perla (December 25, 2009). "Red Lobsters cook up fresher paven look". Times Free Press. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  18. ^ The Associated Press Staff Writer. "Darden Looking to Spin off or Sell Red Lobster". Moneynews. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  19. ^ Staff Writer. "Darden Restaurants reducing 85 corporate positions; COO Drew Madsen leaving". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  20. ^ Duprey, Rich. "Darden Restaurants Shedding Franken-Chain Concept". Motley Fool. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  21. ^ Rupp, Lindsey (16 May 2014). "Darden to Sell Red Lobster for $2.1 Billion". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  22. ^ Choi, Candace (28 July 2014). "Orlando's Darden completes completes $2.1 billion sale of Red Lobster". News 13. Bright House Networks.
  23. ^ Benita D. Newton (September 26, 2003). "All-you-"can-eat was too much". St. Petersburg Times Online. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  24. ^ "Red Lobster: Sales surged after Beyonce's "Formation"". CBS News.
  25. ^ "New Daily Deals at Red Lobster® Give Everyone Something to Celebrate in 2020". Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  26. ^ "Menu". Red Lobster.
  27. ^ "What You Need To Know Before You Eat Lobster This Valentine's Day". Delish. February 10, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  28. ^ "Red Lobster Opens in Doha". 11 June 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  29. ^ "About Us". Red Lobster Middle East. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

External links[edit]