Tuesday, May 14, 2024

[ALERT] Struggling Seafood Chain Red Lobster Could Soon Sleep With the Fishes

Struggling casual restaurant Red Lobster, known perhaps as much for seafood as for their Cheddar Bay Biscuits, abruptly closed 48 units May 13 as it works to remain a going concern and avoid complete collapse.  The closures included three restaurants in Georgia.  The company has hired a third-party liquidation firm to auction off restaurant equipment at the affected locations. 

In Georgia, Red Lobster closed locations in Roswell (1050 Holcomb Bridge Road), Athens (1956 W. Broad Street), and Dublin (2105 Veterans Boulevard).  

The first Red Lobster opened in Lakeland, Florida in 1968.  The restaurant's founder, William "Bill" Darden, was born in Waycross, Georgia in 1918, and the seafood eatery was the encore of sorts to Darden's first restaurant, The Green Frog, which he opened in Waycross.  After growing the concept to a handful of locations, Darden sold the business to General Mills in 1970.  The cereal company ran the business - which in the 80s also grew to include Olive Garden - until 1995, when it spun off Darden Restaurants, Inc. into its own standalone company.  

Darden announced in May 2014 it would be selling what was then a just over 700 unit Red Lobster chain to Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion.  The company announced the completion of the sale of  July 28, 2014.  

Seafood supplier Thai Union acquired a 25 percent stake in the company in 2016 for a reported $575 million, and in 2020 led an investment group that purchased the remaining portion from Golden Gate Capital.  This past January, however, Thai Union announced its intention to fully divest the struggling chain.    

On April 16, Bloomberg reported that Red Lobster was preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, blaming financial pressures and an $11 million loss stemming from its $20 $22 $25 "ultimate endless shrimp" promotion in 2023.  

In addition to the three Georgia closures, the company reportedly shuttered all of its Buffalo, NY-area locations and at least eight Orlando-area restaurants. Despite the central Florida closures, Red Lobster Hospitality, LLC. remains based in Orlando and continues to operate its Restaurant Support Center (RSC) which opened in downtown Orlando in 2015.  

Red Lobster will continue to operate several Atlanta area restaurants including those on LaVista Road in Tucker, Cobb Parkway in Smyrna and on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, among others.  

Following the closures, the company will operate about 600 restaurants globally.  

Are you surprised to see Red Lobster shutter so many restaurants?  What is your favorite casual dining restaurant chain?  What would you like to see open in place of the shuttered unit in Roswell? 

Please share your thoughts below. 

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

can anyone here rattle off the names of some of the chains that were here in the 1990s to early 2000s, there's one in particular that was a good upscale chain, maybe comparable to Houston's, they had a location on Peachtree I think, and they had really good garlic parmesan fries. It's not John Harvard's brewhouse, but something else in that Houstons/John Harvard/Mick's type category...I can't remember, and it's killing me!!!

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon:

Are you thinking of BrickTop's that was at Terminus (corner of Piedmont & Peachtree) and closed in 2017?

https://www.tonetoatl.com/2017/11/BrickTops-Closing-December-31-At-Terminus.html

Anonymous said...

wasn't bricktops, but if you have more ideas, keep posting. It was very similar to a houston's, maybe with a bit more emphasis on beer, but they had pretty good food too. thanks, firstposter

Anonymous said...

Was it Houlihans?

Anonymous said...

ooh, it came back to me: Gordon Biersh. It was part of the heydey of Houston's/max lager/rock bottom/John Harvard/Mick's, where you could get a hearty meal, maybe a nice 'family occasion' meal, not entirely break the bank... No need for panic, carry on...

Alex said...

Whereabouts on Peachtree? Maybe you're thinking of Houlihan's? There was also Amerigo and later Brio, which were both Italian.

Alex said...

Oooops, I just saw that you answered your own question. There were definitely some interesting relatively upscale restaurants back in the 90s and early 2000s along Peachtree.

Anonymous said...

Alex, GB was at 848 peachtree. It arrived around December, 1999, and lasted at least 18 years or so. I'm not sure if covid killed it, or if it closed a couple of years before then.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised about the Red Lobster closures especially given the news reports about the company lately. I'm glad the Tucker location is still open. It is actually pretty good and they have great service at that location.

Anonymous said...

Gordon Biersh which replaced Rock Bottom Brewery in Buckhead where Red Phone Booth in Buckhead is now located

Anonymous said...

Gives new meaning to their alternate name "Dead Lobster".

Anonymous said...

My wife, who will be turning 50 this year, has never eaten at Red Lobster. It's kind of become a running joke now and not sure if I want to ruin it by taking her there. I guess we better decide relatively quickly. When is the next Lobsterfest?!?!

Anonymous said...

My wife has never been there either! Maybe we should let the two of them go eat there and then you and I can go do something more fun. Interested?

Anonymous said...

Going bankrupt within 10 years of being bought out by a VC firm sounds about right.

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