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Who owns Red Lobster? A look at ownership, menu changes amid restaurant's bankruptcy filing

USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Red Lobster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday night.
  • Red Lobster's restaurants will remain open and operating as usual during the bankruptcy process.

Is it time to say goodbye to those special Cheddar Bay Biscuits?

Red Lobster closed at least 99 restaurants across 28 states and filed for bankruptcy within the last week.

Here中出少妇视频檚 a little bit about how the seafood chain all began, including who owns Red Lobster.

Red Lobster closings dot the country:We mapped out where all 99 are located.

Who owns Red Lobster?

Red Lobster started in Lakeland, Florida, in the late 1960s. Since then, ownership in the brand has changed hands several times, according to archive coverage from the .

  • The first Red Lobster opened in 1968 along U.S. 92 with a view of Lake Parker in Lakeland, Florida. The restaurant was an immediate hit and became a destination for the community. Restaurateur Bill Darden, a Lakeland native, founded Red Lobster. Darden partnered with Charles Woodsby, founder of Texas Cattle Co.
  • General Mills bought the first five Red Lobster restaurants in 1970 and created a nationwide chain, which eventually included more than 700 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
  • In 1995, General Mills spun off the chain, creating Darden Restaurants, a publicly traded company. Darden Restaurants operated other chain restaurants, such as Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, the Capital Grille, Seasons 52 and the Yard House.
  • On May 16, 2014, Darden Restaurants announced plans to sell Red Lobster to Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion in an effort to improve the parent company's financial performance, according to a 2014 Florida Times-Union story. Darden announced the completion of the sale of Red Lobster to Golden Gate Capital on July 28, 2014.
  • Golden Gate sold 25% of Red Lobster to Thai Union in 2016 and then sold its remaining interest in Red Lobster to Thai Union in 2020, a news release states.
  • Thai Union announced in January 2024 that it planned to sell off its remaining stake in the chain, according to .

Why did Red Lobster file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday night, the company said in a statement that "it intends to use the proceedings to drive operational improvements, simplify the business through a reduction in locations, and pursue a sale of substantially all of its assets as a going concern. As part of these filings, Red Lobster has entered into a stalking horse purchase agreement pursuant to which Red Lobster will sell its business to an entity formed and controlled by its existing term lenders."

Red Lobster's restaurants will remain open and operating as usual during the Chapter 11 process, according to The Florida Times-Union, part of the USA TODAY Network.

New CEO Jonathan Tibus said in a news release that "this restructuring is the best path forward for Red Lobster. It allows us to address several financial and operational challenges and emerge stronger and re-focused on our growth. The support we've received from our lenders and vendors will help ensure that we can complete the sale process quickly and efficiently while remaining focused on our employees and guests."

Red Lobster's early menu included some current popular items

Endless Shrimp, Cheddar Bay Biscuits, and Admiral中出少妇视频檚 Feast. Which one was your favorite off the Red Lobster menu?中出少妇视频

From resplendent feast platters to biscuits and hush puppies, here's a look at some of Red Lobster中出少妇视频檚 most famous menu items.中出少妇视频

  • Frog legs at Red Lobster? When Red Lobster first opened, among the early menu items were a half-dozen oysters for 65 cents and a platter of frog legs and hush puppies for $2.50. An mentioned a 1968 Red Lobster menu with steak and lobster for $2.95, broiled Florida lobster for $2.35, fried snapper fingers for $1.25, oyster stew, "fish-on-a-bun" or a flounder sandwich for 35 cents, milk for 20 cents, and a whiskey sour for 65 cents.
  • Early Red Lobster feast plates: Before Red Lobster's Ultimate Feast was a thing, the 1968 Red Lobster menu had a "mariner's platter" that included fried shrimp, oysters, flounder, fried crab claws, deviled crab cake, hush puppies, choice of potato and coleslaw, all for $1.95. Similarly, the restaurant also offered a "Neptune platter" with fried shrimp, oysters, flounder, frog legs, scallops, a deviled crab cake, fried crab claws, hush puppies, choice of potato, and coleslaw for just $2.50.
  • Clam chowder at Red Lobster: Besides lobster, fish and shrimp, one of the notable menu items that has become a mainstay at the seafood chain was New England clam chowder, appearing on the menu in 1968 and continuing today.
  • Cheddar Bay Biscuits: The free bread became a signature starter for Red Lobster when it was owned by Darden Restaurants. Cheddar Bay Biscuits would appear on tables prior to diners ordering. Originally, the restaurant served hush puppies, fried cornmeal and onions, but switched to the cheddar biscuits because they were easier to produce, Larry Ross, who worked at the original Red Lobster as a 15-year-old busboy, said in a 2014 Lakeland Ledger story.
  • Red Lobster Seafood Express: Over the years, Red Lobster has updated its menu to feature more fresh fish and wood-fired options. In the 2010s, the seafood chain was competing with fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. In 2013, Red Lobster unveiled its own fast-casual concept, offering Seaside Express, where customers ordered at the counter for quick-served lunches without the traditional waiter service. It was tested at two Orlando restaurants and discontinued the same year, according to the Ledger.
  • Lobsterfest: Red Lobster's first "Lobsterfest" was held in 1983, becoming one of the company's constant staples.
  • Pasta at Red Lobster: Around 2000, the Red Lobster menu was revamped to add pasta with seafood items and season the chain's traditional dishes with more spices and herbs, according to a 2000 Lakeland Ledger story.
  • Ultimate Feast at Red Lobster: In 2014, Red Lobster's Ultimate Feast included a Maine lobster tail, steamed North American snow crab legs, garlic shrimp scampi and fried shrimp. Red Lobster's Admiral Feast, which includes shrimp, flounder, fried clam strips, fried scallops and two sides, costs $25.99.
  • Lobster Feast at Red Lobster: The seafood restaurant chain's popular Lobster Feast actually includes one lobster per person, according to its menu, "live Maine lobsters are steamed to order for you and your guests. Each meal includes lobster bisque, steamed Maine lobsters (one per person), four individual sides, dessert and Cheddar Bay Biscuits."
  • Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster: The seafood restaurant chain's signature promotion, Endless Shrimp, was already a hit since about 2005. Beginning in June 2023, however, the limited-time special became a permanent menu option 中出少妇视频 all-day, every day for $20. Guests chose two shrimp dishes to start, and when they were ready for more, they could order additional shrimp selections. Each Ultimate Endless Shrimp meal was accompanied by one side and Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

How did Red Lobster start?

Red Lobster has a unique history in Florida and beyond, including how the Akron, Ohio, location kept one rare lobster from ending up on a dinner plate.

  • In 2020, a rare blue lobster was caught (a one-in-200-million chance, according to the University of Maine Lobster Institute) and saved from being a catch of the day at the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Red Lobster location, according to the Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network. Restaurant workers noticed the lobster's rare blue color among the live lobster delivery. It was donated to the Akron Zoo in Akron, Ohio, and later named "Clawde" after the famous Red Lobster mascot.
  • The original Red Lobster site closed in May 1997 after 29 years and moved to 3706 U.S. 98, Lakeland, in front of Lakeland Square Mall. The Red Lobster restaurant location in Lakeland was still open as of May 15, 2024.
  • Darden had been running restaurants since age 19. He opened several restaurants called The Green Frog in Georgia beginning in 1938.
  • Around the time Red Lobster first opened, the only chain restaurants were fast-food places, such as McDonald's.
  • The concept for Red Lobster? Open a seafood restaurant in a landlocked community and see if it can be franchised. Larry Ross, a professor of business administration at Florida Southern College who worked at the original Red Lobster in Lakeland, described the goals of Bill Darden and Charles Woodsby in a 2014 story in the Florida Times-Union: "What they did was test a seafood restaurant in a landlocked community and prove if (it) can fly here, (it) can fly anywhere."

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. .