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Red Lobsters Closing?....

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  1. Oh geez. We'd better get to RL soon to use up the $50 in Olive Garden gift cards my husband received for his birthday. (Seriously?!?!) Ain't no way we are going to eat AT Olive Garden.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Njchicaa

      You could use them at Longhorn Steakhouse.. which isn't too bad.. much better than RL, anyway.

      I never found RL to be a good value for the money.. I always thought the prices were rather inflated for what you actually got.

      1. re: MarlboroMan

        This is true. We've been there a couple of times and had a decent meal. I think the closest one is about 40 minutes away though.

        1. re: Njchicaa

          Isn't the relationship to Olive Garden the telling point. Cost of goods is so much higher at Red Lobster and in the end they are competing for people in the same demographic at what should be the same price points.

        2. re: MarlboroMan

          Not only that, the food you got looked nothing like what they show in their commercials.

        3. re: Njchicaa

          I had a one of those gc too and was not willing to use it at Longhorn. We went to a Longhorn in Boston near Fenway Park last winter and the restaurant was dirty and the food was horrible. Disappointing as it had been quite good when a different manager was there. Anyway we have moved west so drove to Albany recently to Red Lobster and the burger was better than the fish tacos which were okay but not great. Plan to get back there as we still have some cash on the card. This time I'm having the burger!

        4. I'll tell you what, I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for this business model to finally start to implode. Higher prices and lower kwality have been the standard at these mid level chains for too long. Sorry if you were a fan of Red Lobster, but good riddance.

          The article hits the nail on the head, these restaurants were originally suppose to fill a void between fast food and fine dining. Instead they have increased their prices to a point they are no longer truly an "affordable" option as compared to going to some local, better options.

          21 Replies
          1. re: jrvedivici

            I think they're a victim of the economy. Curious how much, if any is backlash from the CEO comments/actions regarding Obamacare and cutting employee hours.

            1. re: Jerseygirl111

              I think they're a victim of crappy food and poor management decisions:

              "The company lowered its profit and revenue projections for the quarter ended Nov. 25, also blaming bad promotions, Hurricane Sandy, purchasing its Yard House USA chain for the bad results, reports Tiffany Hsu at the Los Angeles."

              The CEO blaming the Affordable Care Act is just a case of CYA.

                1. re: carolinadawg

                  So right....Obamacare with it's mandates for firms with over 50 employees would surely have nothing to do with lower profit margins..

                  1. re: cstumiller

                    Umm, the lower profit margins in question are for the quarter that ended November 25, 2013. It's not possible for the Affordable Care Act to have impacted that quarters financial reports, as it hadn't been implemented at that time. So yes, it is completely true that the ACA "surely had nothing to do with the lower profit margins."

                      1. re: carolinadawg

                        Actually, obamacare has already effected businesses that give their employees health insurance by driving premiums up at least 25 percent over the last two years. The additional cost of having to provide the coverage to businesses with 50 employees or more is not going to be that great a problem. Easiest thing to do is higher more people working 29 hours a week. No liability then.

                          1. re: carolinadawg

                            In Economics, I call this "The Gathering Storm Effect", named for Winston Churchill's tome.

                          2. re: cwdonald

                            We've removed some posts about ACA; we're not the right place for that sort of political debate.

                          3. re: carolinadawg

                            Competent Boards analysis their business model well into the future and any pending legislation that has the potential to have a significant negative impact will most certainly be a factor in their decision making process.

                            1. re: Tom34

                              In the post you referenced, I wasn't discussing their future decisions, I was discussing their PAST financial performance.

                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                My point was that for many of the reasons you and others have mentioned their profits have lagged and the ACA and movements to dramatically increase the minimum wage paint an even bleaker future.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  Sorry, but none of that makes much sense. Servers (who I'm sure are their largest employee group) aren't subject to standard minimum wage laws and would be unaffected by such.

                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                    When I worked there the servers and all other employees got health insurance if they worked over 20 hours a week. It was a very generous benefit, although that was in the days of General Mills. Hard to remember when health insurance was free AND easy.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      I remember growing up a friend's mom worked for Clover (division of Strawbridges) She got comprehensive family healthcare and a defined pension.

                                      When the new discounters came along and offered their employees neither, Clover couldn't compete and the "public" flocked to the new discounters for the lower prices and Clover closed the doors. We are just as responsible as CEO's.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        I think that's great! Apparently, the situation has changed for the worse.

                                        1. re: carolinadawg

                                          The situation with health insurance has changed for the worst for everyone. Can you imagine a chain restaurant giving it's part time employees full coverage? We had waitresses that had been there 15 or 20 years, just for that reason.

                                      2. re: carolinadawg

                                        Servers are but one group of employees. Low cost kitchen help is a key component of the restaurant industry, especially chains that have broken down kitchen jobs to their lowest common denominator in an effort to keep wages low. Clearly there is a moral argument to be made but in a board room its about the bottom line and return on equity. ACA or significant increases in the minimum wage have a tremendous impact on virtually any low skill / low wage industry. An easy answer there is not.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          I worked in a restaurant similar to RL. Servers outnumbered kitchen staff by at least 2:1, maybe 3:1. Most of the kitchen staff made more than minimum wage.

                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                            Since I used to do payroll at RL, I can say that there were probably 60 servers all told. Of course not at one time! Always at least 10 or 12 on the floor for dinner at any given time (although if it was slow we'd send some home); some only worked Mondays and Tuesdays, some only on weekends etc. Took me half a day to do the schedule, it was very complicated.

                                            Dishwasher, 1, he was a hard worker and worked 7 days (he'd get mad if we told him to take off). Cooks, maybe 6, prep people again maybe 5 or 6. Bussers and bartender, a couple of each. Managers, four; three on duty on any given day. There were also two old timers that alternated at the cash register and then a hostess that just seated people. That's as far as my fading memory can pull up right now.

                                            As far as minimum wage, you didn't start at that in the first place and a manager had to give a review every six months and unless there was an issue, you always got a raise.

                      2. Just an Internet rumor according to this. They are going to try selling it off.

                        http://www.orlandosentinel.com/busine...

                        1. Many chains seem to fizzle out in time, especially during prolonged weak economies.

                          Centralized purchasing may have some $$ advantages but not allowing a MGR to take advantage of fresh locally harvested products has many quality disadvantages. So does relying on low bid specs.

                          Breaking down what were once skilled kitchen positions to completely unskilled labor with no formal culinary training might be good for the short term bottom line but probably not for long term food prep quality.

                          I think its the same for wait staff. A high volume of lower % tips may pay the bills but its makes for a tiring day. Good place for young folks to learn but I suspect the turnover is significant.

                          1. Could be an issue if all those folks start crowding the good places...

                            1. I did hear some stock intel recently making me believe the various chains under the Corp banner would be splitting up. Sometimes these rumor are leaked in order to tease the stock.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                  Sometimes when the real estate has more value than the chain running on the space, splits happen. In this economy, I'm not at all surprised...and tuning in. Darden is still a healthy stock for early investors. But now..
                                  http://investorplace.com/2013/12/dard...

                              1. I think a lot has to do with the weak economy. Yes, we are no longer in a regression, but things are still slow. Oh well.

                                Still, the recent news is saying that Red Lobster is not being closed. Not now anyway.

                                "Red Lobster is not closing, despite Internet rumors about the chain's demise.

                                Darden has been trying to quash false reports since Christmas that Red Lobster is shuttering its restaurants across the country. Still, on Friday afternoon "Red Lobster closing" was the No. 1 item trending on Yahoo, and the rumor was the subject of multiple Tweets and Facebook posts"

                                http://www.orlandosentinel.com/busine...

                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                    Maybe it's not the economy so much as folks becoming more conscious of food quality for the price?

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      I think its many things but IMHO your point is one of the key factors.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        I can't recall the last time I was in an RL...maybe 20 years ago, but from what I've read from others the the Cheese Biscuits should negate any price concerns...

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          First good laugh of the evening, thanks :-)

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            I can remember because my first time was the last. It was in th 70s, colllege. Could not get out of there fast enough.

                                    2. Uh, let's note that the link is to an *opinion* piece by a blogger and that the Guardian has admitted that the headline was misleading and has changed it. Actually, no one who knows anything thinks the chain is closing.

                                      Even though the first line of the *editorial* claims that *some think* the chain *might be* closing, it then only refers to "chatter" and "speculation" that this "might" be an eventuality, and quotes no one but other bloggers.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: acgold7

                                        Most of the information coming from Darden is discussing a corp split of real estate assets.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          A somewhat frightening harbinger, with more to come.

                                        2. Are they going to change the name to Lobster In The Red?

                                          Where ever are we going to get fishsticks and garlic cheese biscuits now?

                                          4 Replies
                                            1. re: Antilope

                                              Isn't that what they already serve?

                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                I know you were being sarcastic but RL cheddar bay biscuit mix is for sale. All you have to add is butter, cheddar and water. $2.88 for a smallish box. So people are basically paying for Bisquick with garlic powder.:-)

                                              2. During this year, several lobsters in different colours have been caught, some of them orange, some blue, some half one colour and half another colour, and this is making me wonder if a simple red lobster is just not that exciting anymore for the general population.

                                                19 Replies
                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                  Funny. A popular seafood restaurant in Playa del Carmen MX is named The Blue Lobster.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Veg...
                                                    you don't have to go that far from your roots:

                                                    The Blue Lobster Restaurant and Seafood Market has been on the Berlin Turnpike for many years.

                                                    http://bluelobsterseafood.com/

                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      Love the menu but why are belly clams m/p while strips are priced?

                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                        I would guess because strips usually have been frozen and can be kept in inventory at a fixed known price, whereas whole belly are fresh and prices and availability are variable.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          Sounds reasonable but, why can't they freeze the whole bellies? Unless the contents can't be frozen.

                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                            They would be disgusting and flaccid when thawed is my guess.

                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                              When we were on Cape Cod a local seafood market sold whole bellies frozen and I see they're available for mail order.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                And they are wonderful in chowder when fresh are not available.

                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                  I bought them inadvertently, labeled as "clam meat" not long ago, and I made chowder with them. Never again; I'll stick to chopped clam meat sans bellies from the freezer once more.

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    I would think the clam belly would make for an unattractive chowder. When the whole clam is fried you don't have to see what's inside there! The belly contents resembles liquid tar.

                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                      Oh not at all, I grew up with whole belly chowder! It was delicious We would go clamming right in front of our house, come home and shuck 'em and eat 'em. Any we didn't eat my dad would turn into chowder. We always had our own clams sitting in the freezer come the dead of winter when we were too wimpy to clam, LOL

                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                        I like 'em raw, just shucked, and I like steamers. I was not enamored of frozen.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          I don't know anyone who would eat thawed frozen clams, raw. They are used in recipe where they will be cooked.

                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                            I'm curious, what size clams were you digging? Little necks, quahogs, or something in between?

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              lLittle necks and quahogs. Quahogs are my clam of choice for chowder

                                                                              ETA- with quahogs we usually chopped them in chowder because those suckers can get big/chewy

                                                                            2. re: foodieX2

                                                                              Yes, I know. I was just saying I like belly clams, just not frozen ones, even in chowder.

                                                                          2. re: foodieX2

                                                                            I did the same back in the 50's. We had a beachfront cottage in East Haven. At low tide it was a snap.

                                                                  2. re: mcf

                                                                    Agreed. No respectable seafood shack would survive over 20 years selling previously frozen fried whole belly clams. The Glenwood gets them fresh shucked in gallon containers from Ipswich MA. Pepe's shucks clams from RI daily for their clam pie.

                                                                  3. re: mucho gordo

                                                                    They can be frozen, but then the quality would only be suitable for a RL.

                                                        2. I do not think they are closing. I think the parent organization is looking to sell off the Red Lobster brand. I almost guarantee there will be some VC money that will think it can turn things around.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. I may be off base, and this is based on limited sample, but it seems to me that Red Lobster, Olive Garden and some others of that ilk serve worse quality food than they used to. I spent time in a highly suburban area this past fall, and had to eat at chains for a number of days, and I can't express how poor the food was. Even in a couple of restaurants that I had eaten at before where the food had been actually decent. Mr. Sueatmo is extremely laid back where food is concerned, and even he noticed how consistently bad it was. The offenders were Ruby Tuesday (I used to like that chain), Mimi's Cafe, and Red Lobster. Only Panera seemed about the same as always.

                                                            Mr. Sueatmo likes Olive Garden, and I gave in and ate there locally a few months ago, and my order was sub par. I can remember when the food was actually acceptable, if you weren't pining for gourmet, or home cooked quality.

                                                            These places aren't worth it, you know. I'd rather have a cheese sandwich and a cup of Campbell's than a meal at most of these places.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                              I keep getting gift certificates for Applebees from different people for some weird reason (are they giving them away for free maybe?) The only reason we go is that I want to take a fun picture of us there for a thank you card. I have nothing to compare to before a year ago, but OMG there is nothing there that is edible, at least not in an enjoyable way. The third time I figured let's get drinks instead, how bad can that be, and our Margaritas came garnished with olives!! Next time guess I'll donate the gift certificates to charity or something.

                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                I've been in an Applebees exactly once. Horrible, awful, gross.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  Had steak there once years ago. "IF" it was graded it was probably select or lower. Very thirsty for hours after eating it which is consistent with tenderizers. Maybe they have a few decent chicken dishes, I don't know.

                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                    Somewhere, sometime I've eaten at Appleby's and was OK. But after that, never. And I won't go back. Very sub par in every way, if memory serves.

                                                                2. re: sueatmo

                                                                  OG is Sysco food microwaved in bags. I've seen reports on CH of folks having been served only semi thawed meals.

                                                                  Never been in one, never plan to.

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    I went with a group to Olive Garden recently, and the food was OK. I've been before and the food was not OK. I don't know the reason for this. Perhaps it was what I ordered.

                                                                    It was unremarkable, because I don't remember what it was, but it was OK, although of course, over priced.

                                                                  2. re: sueatmo

                                                                    I first went to both OG and RL in the early 2000s.
                                                                    Never really liked OG and haven't been in at least 3 years.
                                                                    RL used to be pretty good in land locked states. Terrible in coastal states.
                                                                    Now it has been pretty mediocre and some of the better menu items have disappeared.
                                                                    Most recent was decent around Christmas but still not to the old standards.

                                                                  3. With the sucky economy not enough money sloshing around to support these insipid eateries that target the middle class and lower middle class. These people don't have the money to squander...at least on RL