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Red Lobster Sold...................

Sold to Golden Gate Capital Group. Generally when an investment group buys a struggling chain like this they breath some fresh air and ideas into the stagnant brand. I would say if there was anything that could "save" Red Lobster this might be it. Look for massive restructuring, closings of under performing stores and renovation of existing locations with a "new and improved" menu with slightly higher prices, it's the investment capital way!!!


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  1. Golden Gate Capital owns California Pizza Kitchen and On the Border (the latter actually I think they may have sold). So they have some experience in the industry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: drongo

      Did not know that....thanks. That makes this much more interesting to me. I was at a CPK a few months ago for the first time in many, many years and was pretty impressed overall.

    2. Here in Cenral PA RL is wildly popular. I think most locations in the area have been recently renovated.

      4 Replies
      1. re: melpy

        Dead Lobster is also popular in the middle of Canada, about as far from fresh seafood as you can get geographically. And it's not cheap. I've always wondered why people flock to frozen seafood cooked by high school students when you can get much better for similar prices at independent restaurants.

        1. re: hal2010

          I've lived in places where there are no similarly-priced independent seafood restaurants or where those restaurants are actually worse. Or their specialties are things like walleye and perch (which I don't eat) and not crab or shrimp (which I do eat).

          1. re: FoodPopulist

            Oh, for a restaurant with some walleye and some lake perch! We live in landlocked West Georgia, where catfish is the only "seafood" offered at a restaurant unless you go to Red Lobster. So it's pretty popular here.

            Instead of that, I buy my fish at the local Kroger - there, I can get walleye, monkfish, cod, salmon, oysters, etc...and just cook 'em myself.

            1. re: kitchengardengal

              Sort of makes you want a cartoon poster with the theme "Where's Walleye".

      2. Article about this in BusinessWeek entitled "How Old People and Pricey Shrimp Turned Red Lobster Into a Castoff"

        1. I read this story with interest. The RL near my house is old and dusty - it probably still contains the dead flies and dust that I saw there last time I ate there - sometime in the 90s.

          Yet the parking lot is always packed full. One of life's mysteries.

          I will be interested to see what changes.

          1. There are no Red Lobsters in my state (MA) according to their website.

            With good reason, I guess.

            Lobsters were $1.99 a pound last summer.

            But even if I lived in Iowa, I'd never go.

            5 Replies
              1. re: jrvedivici

                Missouri? while better can be found, for the sake of familial harmony one puts one's 'game face' on, accepts it for what it is and orders carefully and simply.

                1. re: hill food

                  I got gift cards twice at Christmas a few years ago, and you're right hill food, careful and simple is not bad. Grilled fish and biscuits with gift cards are perfectly fine. I'm not going without a big discount as I live on the Gulf Coast. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet with family, we've all been there.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    Same with Applebee's and Olive Garden. Sometimes you just find yourself there and the trick is to order small and simple.

              2. re: C. Hamster

                Agree about the stupidity of opening RL in Mass or for that matter Rhode Island. Years ago we were dragged to RL in RI due to some visitors from OHIO who "loved" RL. The food was tired and place was dingy. BUT now we live in the western reaches of Mass we drove over to the Albany area and RL is mobbed at least at lunch. There is a wait to get in by noon and the place is clean and the staff on their toes but of course it isn't Cape Cod.

              3. I saw Flava Flav in a Red Lobster in Austin, clock and all....I'm just sayin.

                9 Replies
                  1. re: rudeboy

                    One of the Houston Rocket NBA players was on a national radio show a few years back. When asked where he liked to go for a splurge, Red Lobster. These guys make millions every year, but some folks are clueless about good food.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      I find it interesting that you mention a black celebrity because apparently there are racists out there who seem to associate Red Lobster with black patrons.


                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                        Well, I'm actually extremely anti racist. I've been to a Public Enemy concert, and had several of their albums when they hit their peak. Didn't know about Red Lobster attracting certain races.

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          That Red Lobster attracts certain races is such an ignorant, laughable and absurd notion. I thought all of us are way beyond that type of thinking.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            so Mr. Flav is still working the clock? he always did know what time it is.

                            I think the perception that black folks are enamored of RL is actually simply one of adjacency not necessarily preference - RL seems to be one of the few mid-priced, sit-down, non-fast-food chains willing to open in areas that happen to be predominantly black. you know corporate runs the numbers on an area before they grant a franchise, RL seems to be more adventurous in this regard, and if the one my aunt favors is any meter (working class, largely black), they are rewarded in kind with a steady, even overwhelming business. If you don't want to drive across town, but want a place with proper table service, in some places it's the only game around.

                            1. re: hill food

                              I like to see a business succeed. I don't give a rat's ass who makes it happen, or why it matters to anyone.

                            2. re: Veggo

                              Hardly any Blacks or even Whites in all of the RL places in Japan.


                              In the land of diverse and superb seafood, Red Lobster seems to be doing pretty well.

                      2. Not worth saving. I went there when I was younger and poorer and visiting Kansas, always for the $10 or $15 lobster, just so I could brag that I was served a fresh lobster in Kansas. Went there once a couple years ago with a friend and spent a lot of money for one of the worst meals ever ... bad shrimp and overcooked pasta drowned in a horrible fake Alfredo sauce. If Red Lobster has a future, it is as a cat food company ... for people who hate cats.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: emu48

                          I would really doubt that the lobster you were served in Kansas was fresh. It was frozen, I am sure.

                          1. re: Tripeler

                            I'm pretty sure all Red Lobster lobsters are kept live in a tank. In the lobby, for all to see. It's part of their d├ęcor!

                            1. re: coll

                              Regarding those tanks, at RL and other places. What is the quality of that water, and how often is it changed, and do the tanks ever get cleaned????

                              Frozen might be preferable.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                I'm sure someone is tasked with the responsibility to properly maintain the tanks; I don't think it is fair to assume otherwise. A more important factor would be the rate of turnover. Sedentary lobsters in a tank will loose strength and the firmness of the meat. I think freezing lobster is a 3 point deduct on a 10 scale.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  I've seen a lot of cloudiness and floating scum in fish/lobster tanks in restaurants; to be fair, I haven't seen this at RL (because I have rarely been there in my life, mostly). The times I was there, though, the rest of the place was filthy.

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    Depends on the Dining Room Manager, some will be checking out the ceiling and the lightning fixtures plus under the tables while others are busy gabbing or doing paperwork. Like any place else. They are trained to keep everything spotless, that much I can tell you. And the district managers do make a lot of surprise visits.

                                    The lobster tanks, for some reason I seem to remember that the supplier rotated, refilled and cleaned the tanks. There were some feisty, mean lobsters in there, which is definitely a sign of health. The only ones that died to my recollection were by their friends' claws, the ones that escaped the rubber bands. But I don't remember them making their way to the kitchen, a big thrill was diners picking their lobster personally from the tank.

                            2. re: Tripeler

                              Nope, fresh and alive in a tank, at least when I walked in. Back in the '80s, Red Lobster used to be famous as a place where you could dine for cheap on fresh lobster in remote inland boondocks. That was their gimmick, but it got lost along the way to chain restaurant oblivion. That was before I moved to Honolulu, where the Humane Society periodically raids sushi joints for serving Dancing Prawns. That's the ultimate in fresh crustaceans.

                          2. Not clear that any sale will happen. I understand that Starboard is planning to launch a proxy fight at Darden. They've been pushing for a spinoff of OG and RL brands.