The restaurant chain was founded in 1948 by William Darden Sr., a former executive at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He opened his first restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, in 1954. In 1969, he moved the company to Orlando, Florida, where it continues to operate today.
Today, there are approximately 740 restaurants located throughout the United States and Canada. Most of the locations are franchised; however, some are owned and operated by franchisees.
In addition to its namesake menu items, Red Lobster offers salads, appetizers, entrees, desserts, sides, beverages, and house made ice cream. Many of its dishes feature seafood, including shrimp, crab legs, salmon, scallops, lobster tails, mussels, clams, oysters, calamari, and fish sticks. Other options include chicken, beef, pork, pasta, vegetables, and vegetarian fare.
– The first Red Loberster store opened in Lakeland, Florida in 1968.
– The name ‘Red Lobster’ came about because the founders wanted it to sound like a lobster trap.
– The first RedLobster was located in Lakeland, FL.
– The original owners of the first Red Lobster were Bill Darden and Charly Woodsby.
– The first location had seating for around 80 people.
– The first menu consisted of seafood dishes such as shrimp cocktail, crabmeat salad, fried flounder fillet, baked Alaska, and lemon meringue pie.
– The first franchisee signed up was Jim Anderson, owner of a local pizza parlor.
2009 prototype and sale
In 2009, Red Lobster introduced its new Bar Harbor prototype restaurant concept. The location was designed to mimic the look of a seaside resort hotel. The menu included lobster rolls and shrimp cocktails served in oversized bowls. A large wooden board offered classic American fare such as crab cakes and fried chicken. At the end of each meal, diners could take home a keepsake bowl filled with ice cream and cookies.
The new prototype restaurant marked a significant change for the struggling seafood chain. For the first time, the company had opened a restaurant without a previous model. And while the new location was well received by customers, many industry insiders questioned whether the move was necessary.
On December 19, 2013, the company announced plans to sell or even spin off the Red Lobsters brand. The announcement came just days after Darden reported disappointing earnings and disclosed that it was going over budget on a digital platform.
Red Lobster’s CEO Clarence Otis told analysts that the decision to sell or spin off Red Lobster was based on market conditions, including competition from casual dining chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. But he acknowledged that the company needed to find ways to better compete against those competitors.
Otis added that the company was looking to raise capital to fund growth opportunities. He did not specify what those opportunities might be, but some reports suggested that the company was considering a possible bid for Pinnacle Foods Inc., which owns brands like Auntie Anne’s pretzels.
As part of its plan to separate itself from Red Lobster, Darden said it planned to close the existing Bar Harbor restaurants. Instead, it would open standalone Olive Garden locations in the same shopping centers. The company said it expected to complete the conversions by early 2016.
Red lobster Menu
The menu at the restaurant includes options like steaks, salads, soups, appetizers, entrees, sides, desserts, beverages, and house specials. There are also daily lunch special deals and happy hour prices.
The restaurant has an open floor plan with booths and tables. It is decorated with nautical themes.
The first Bar Harbor prototype restaurant seated approximately 100 guests. Today, most locations have seating capacities ranging between 150 and 200 guests.
The history of Red Lobster began when two friends, James L. Clements and William H. Gildart, founded the company in Mobile, Alabama, in 1948. In 1954, they moved their business to Savannah, Georgia, where they built a restaurant called “Crawfish Palace.” By 1957, the restaurant was so successful that the partners decided to expand into other cities. They chose New Orleans because it was one of the few major U.S. cities that didn’t already have a seafood restaurant.
In 1958, the company changed its name to Red Lobster Seafood Restaurants Inc. After opening several more restaurants, the company expanded into Florida in 1967. That year, the company also launched its famous advertising campaign featuring actress Elizabeth Montgomery. The ads featured her character, Julie Rogers, who worked as a waitress at a Red Lobster restaurant. She sang about how she loved working there: “I love my job / I get up every day / To serve red meat and potatoes / With a cherry on top.”
In 1970, the company moved its headquarters to Orlando, Florida. During this period, the company introduced its first frozen seafood products. In 1973, the company purchased the rights to use the term “fresh” in its marketing materials.
By the 1980s, the company had grown to over 1,000 stores nationwide. At the time, the chain was known as the largest privately held corporation in America. However, the company’s success came at a price. As the number of stores grew, the company faced increasing pressure to cut costs. This led to layoffs and store closings.
By the 1990s, the company had closed hundreds of stores. In 1995, the company sold its last remaining franchisee and became a publicly traded company. The following year, the company opened its first international location in Canada.
In 1997, the company acquired the rights to use the brand name Olive Garden. The acquisition gave the company access to new markets and helped it compete against fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King.
In 1999, the company announced plans to acquire the parent companies of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings for $1 billion. The deal fell through after the Federal Trade Commission blocked the merger.
In 2000, the company bought out all of its franchisees except for those in California, Texas, and Hawaii. The company then focused on growing its existing stores rather than opening new ones.
Red lobster Locations
Red Lobster opened its first restaurant in 1962 in Columbus, Georgia, and now operates over 700 restaurants across the world. In 2013, it became the first national chain of casual dining seafood restaurants to open a location in Times Square.
In addition to its traditional menu items such as salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pasta dishes, steaks, burgers, chicken, fish, and sides, the chain offers a variety of specialty seafood dishes like lobster tail, shrimp scampi, crab legs, and baked Alaska.
Red Lobster on 7th Avenue, in Times Square, New York
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