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Red Lobster Circling the Drain?

We used to go to the Red Lobster a lot. We both like fish, and liked their rather extensive menu. We hadn't been in a while, and went in to find the fisherman's shack/warehouse theme gone, and redecorated in the coffee-shop-in-a-bowling-alley decor. Hard, wooden chairs, and bright. Very bright. including the bar. The service wasn't so good, and the menu seemed to have shrunk.

Fast forward to last Monday. Exhausted from shopping, I stopped by to pick up dinner. That was a mistake. The menu items were miniscule. They have removed ANYTHING I liked: gone is the Lobster Fondue bread bowl, the crab pasta alfredo, and over the years, other things.

My pals and I liked to stop by on our way home from shopping back in the day, and have zucchini dollars, and shrimp cocktail. Those are long gone along with my DS' favorite when he was little; an open faced tuna melt. (It was good, too.)

I don't understand why they would go out of their way to run off long time customers, and be so obvious that they are trying to save money. The place was dead when I was there, and it was 6:00p.m. They should have been busy.

Has anyone else noticed this?

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  1. I worked with a girl that worked at Rl, and asked her what happened to the lobster fondue bowl, and she said they change their menu every 6 months. She recommended I try the lobster pizza instead, and I did. It was VERY good, but not as good as the lobster fondue.........

    1. If they are in trouble, their TV ad campaign does not reflect it. Their ads run on Boston channels, when the nearest Red Lobster is 2 hrs away in the Hartford CT area.

      9 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        They are PACKED here where I live. My 16 year old eats there every chance her budget allows.

        1. re: jeanmarieok

          DArden Restaurants, of which Red Lobster is part, is doing well financially. Having said that I do not care for any of Darden's brands, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn, Capital Grill, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52.

        2. re: greygarious

          Grey, (from a brindle).........
          The advertising you may see on Boston stations are part of a national buy, NOT locally placed. If an advertiser buys time on CSI, it's nationwide, a few minutes are left to the local affiliate to sell (RL wouldn't be buying this in a market where it has no outlets).
          BTW>>Some Boston stations are 'MUST CARRY' on some Connecticut cable systems (I was a cable commissioner in CT for 12 years), including the system that covers Newington (where there is a RL).

          Lastly, Boston is a travel and business destination, and a national buy advertisement reaches people who will travel to places where there are RL locations and might try them.

          All in all, I think RL and its plastic seafood stinks, but I'm a native New Englander who has watched them close many New England locations. The biggest joke was when they opened and folded in Hyannis, some marketing genius deserved to be sacked for that!

          1. re: bagelman01

            There was a Red Lobster in RI about 10 years ago. It closed rather quickly and became a chain BBQ place. There are no RL's in RI. They obviously can't compete in areas where there is actually seafood available. On the other hand, the owners found they could sell BBQ in RI since they have no competition with that item (equally as terrible).

            1. re: Clams047

              Red Lobster had a good thing with the Cheddar Bay biscuits - they made you excuse the forgettable entrees. Too bad Darden isn't including them on their Olive Garden and other chain menus.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  the biscuits are the best part of the meal. Food is passable

                  1. re: linsue

                    I think they make a very good ceasar salad as well. On chilled plates no less. I don't know why that has such appeal to me, but it does. Most places serve it on room temperature plates (or hot out of the washer, no less.). My particular RL says they chill the plates and salad separately - only plating as ordered. In other words, they don't pre-plate and stick them in a chiller.

                    1. re: sheilal

                      Sheilal, they premake them if it's going to be really busy, like Friday or Saturday night. I used to wait tables there. Typically, though, if it's slower and not crazy, the salads are made to order. The ceasar salads are usually made to order, as well, or just minutes before.

        3. Just talking to someone at work the other day about recipes.
          He brought up Red Lobster and how much he&his wife loved their cheese biscuits.
          He also mentioned liking to get in rhe kitchen himself once in a while.
          I found the copycat recipe for their cheesy biscuits printed it out and gave it to him.
          My husband is a numbers guy, memory for numbers.
          He and I have discussed RL numerous times as we've been out around the country looking for dinner. There always seems to be the typicals: RL-TGIF-Chili's-Applebees. None of them we've ever liked. So inhrought the subject up last week after my coworker brought up RL.
          How many times have we been to any RL honey total. 9 he said.
          Have we ever had a good meal there? Never he said.
          So to us it was clinging around awful from the first experience we had. We're also slow learners, never any better.
          And we love lobster so it is a sad thing, agree with you, wish it had been better.

          3 Replies
          1. re: iL Divo

            I like lobsters as well thats why I just get a fresh steamed lobster.
            Can't mess that up.
            I don't want some lobster meat pasty dish or pizza. Just lobster..with drawn butter..crack it myself..biscuits and ceaser salad. what's not to like ?

            1. re: rochfood

              never ordered it just that way.
              call me ignorant.
              I should have done that all along, maybe our outcome would have been different.
              maybe we ought to just hit the east coast more often for real lobster. :)

              1. re: rochfood

                Oh yes. They CAN mess that up. I once ordered a steamed lobster at RL. It came whole, uncracked and blasting hot. I couldn't crack into that thing for love nor money. I asked if the kitchen could start me off with a few preliminary cracks. They obliged, but what was returned to me was dry as a bone, shrunken within the shell and tough to pull out with the seafood fork. It was so depressing, particularly since their lobsters are on the small side to begin with. I don't usually use the drawn butter, but this thing was so dry I had to. I've had over and undercooked lobster before, so I know of what I speak.

                I never order fish at RL because the portions are small and routinely overcooked. I haven't been to a RL in a number of years, but if I found myself at one today, I'd follow my husband's grandmother's RL rules: load up on the biscuits and enjoy the shrimps in garlic butter. The shrimps may be small and of mediocre quality, but anything drowned in garlic butter can't be all bad!

            2. The only reason I have gone in the last few years is for Shrimpfest. AYCE shrimp, three ways (fried, scampi and alfredo). I wait until I am famished and I usually get my money's worth (I have been given some odd looks by the servers asking for my 5th refill of shrimp, haha) and it is a good excuse to have some of the cheddar biscuits as well. It seems a little redundant to me to order crab legs or lobster since I can quickly and easily prepare it at home for half the price (steamed, with butter- voila).

              1. RL seems to be doing well. They closed one or two in CT and now are far and few between. Went last night to Weathersfield, CT, and was disappointed. Either the quality of the food has seriously declined (obviously frozen scallops & shrimp merely heated) or my tastes have become much more sophisticated over the years. I'm afraid biscuits do not make up for mediocre entrees. I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that there are no above-average national chain restaurants left in this country. I'm no snob, but at the prices one pays for a meal, one's expectations should be high.

                1 Reply
                1. re: njmarshall55

                  That's Wethersfield - as in castrated sheep or goats.

                2. We just got a new one. old one burned to the ground. I had the salmon with a soy wasabi sauce, yummmmmm! We had a fabulous meal there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wyogal

                    My family loved it years ago when I was kid, 70's-80's. Went there again several years ago and thought it was terrible. I've been meaning to try again based solely on their advertising.

                    It would have to be tough running a chain fish restaurant, we are running out of good fish at an alarming rate. Heck, Captain D's used to make a decent fish and chips for not much money.

                    1. re: kengk

                      Perhaps the inclination to use frozen, farmed, imported shellfish has something to do with the decline. Perhaps some of the stuff is even pre-cooked or processed overseas.