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Jul 12, 2006 06:28 PM

A Serious Sociological Red Lobster Query

Driving by our local Red Lobster (which we do not eat at) we've frequently noticed that on Sunday afternoons, it is largely frequented by a mostly post-church going crowd. Incredibly dressed-up people in all their finest.

In fact, there was one day that my husband said we should pop our heads into the lobby to find out what was going on - he just couldn't believe this could be happening on such a regular basis. Everyone inside were dressed like they were at a wedding - we felt really out of place even just standing there.

This strikes as kind of unusual. I mean, it's a chain, right? Or does Red Lobster have some kind of cache that we're not aware of? Are they owned by some religious organization?

I'm not trying to be flip here at all, I'm very seriously interested because I don't see this type of crowd in any other chain restaurant. Or could it just be the area I'm living in?


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  1. we don't get this at out local Red Lobster(So Cal). Are you in the Bible belt?

    1 Reply
    1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

      Nope, not by any means whatsoever. I live in central New Jersey, close to NYC, only a few miles away in fact. It's really odd!


    2. Sunday Afternoon a lot of chains get full of the after church crowd. This is especially true of Hometown Buffet which is hardly an upscale place...

      As for it happening regularly at certain restaurants, I think since Red Lobster is considered an 'higher scale' chain, that their patrons consider a chance to go there a chance to also dress up (Believe it or not, There are still some folks, myself included, who love any chance to dress up!). Also, a lof these places are BIG, so they can accomidate a larger party coming from a celebration like a wedding (I actually did have a post wedding group dinner at Cheesecake once... :P)

      Plus, Let's face it, the reason why chains exist is that MOST people go to them. They look at their success ad a validation for them not moving out of their confort zone and eating at a 'safe' place (If CPK is so successful, it has to be the BEST!!!). Plus, many of them equate a certain's chain's image to relect on them and their 'safe' and 'upscale' neighborhood, I mean, how many of us have had relatives happily and PROUDLY report that a Cheesecake is coming to THEIR town... :/


      1 Reply
      1. re: Dommy

        Dommy, that makes a lot of sense. Both my husband and I wouldn't have thought of this.

        For one, I'm not of that faith so I don't have that mind set.

        My husband is however, in his family, never in a million years would you go to a restaurant after church - your mama cooked the meal for you at home afterwards. Even to this day you have to drag his mom to eat out, it's maddening!

        We both so rarely eat at chains in general, because we are fortunate enough to live in an area with an abundance of great privately owned restaurants but I can see if you lived in an area where that wasn't available how these types of places would be the "bread and butter" of your dining out experience. Even in an area as semi-urban as where I am from, it is understandable that certain folks would still gravitate to the tried and true rather than attempt something new and unknown.

        Thanks for the other perspective.


      2. As a kid, we never ever ate out after church on Sunday. Mom always had a pot roast going. Sunday was a big dinner day. (I hated it cuz I was left with clean up duty)

        While I prefer non chain places, where I live there are very few non chains Red Lobster is one of the chains by us. There are a few items I like, coconut shrimp, snow crab, shrimp scampi and the biscuts.

        1. I think it's just a whole other side of things. I work with a lady whose husband was taking her out for her birthday and I asked where, and they were going to Red Lobster. While I may not think of Red Lobster as a special occasion restaurant, it was to her and she was excited about it.

          1. I think it really depends are where you are and what's familiar to you. I grew up in a small town in Lousiana. I travelled alot as a child, all over the country and the world. I was lucky to have parents who introduced me to great NY pizza, seafood on the coasts, all kinds of great regional food that wasn't in chains.

            But, I'll tell you...there was no Olive Garden, Outback, Red Lobster, Chili's, or the like within three hours of where we lived. We always wanted to try those places when we were in big towns. We'd heard about them, seen them on TV so assumed there was something to it.

            I remember when the first Olive Garden came to town when I was in high school and that was the place all of the kids wanted to have their fancy birthday dinner out. My dad absolutley refused -- he knew I'd had better Italian food and that this would be a disappointment. Boy, was he right.

            It was a novelty. We had to figure out what it was all about and get over it. I'm over it!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: geg5150

              That's absolutely true. When you're from a smaller town (like me in rural Ohio) places like Red Lobster and the Olive Garden are a bit of a drive and a bit of an occasion. Now living near DC I can clearly see that. It doesn't make that mindset sad or pathetic or anything like that, but it does explain it.

              1. re: navygirl7

                I've found that Red Lobsters, at least in rural MD, are very much filled with the church crowd on Sundays.

                Oddly enough, they're also quite popular with those who, let's say, make their livelihood from trafficking in controlled substances. I have a friend who worked at a Red Lobster and a Chesapeake Bay Seafood House in PG County. He regaled me with stories of these young gentlemen and their female acquantences ordering large quantities of the most expensive items, making a great show of how much cash they're flaunting, then leave a measly tip, if any.