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Things Couldn't Get Any Worse at Red Lobster -- Oh, Wait, They Just Did

Red Lobster is a lost cause -- at least, that's what parent company Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI  ) seems to think. In the middle of December, Darden's board of directors announced its decision to remove Red Lobster from its portfolio of full-service restaurants by way of a spinoff or sale.

The question is: Why? What makes Red Lobster the corporate equivalent of kryptonite? Why is Darden's management so hell-bent on the move?

"While we are highly confident the future is bright for both Red Lobster and Darden excluding Red Lobster, we also recognize that the operating priorities, capital requirements, sales and earnings growth prospects, and volatility profiles of the two parts of the business are increasingly divergent," Darden CEO Clarence Otis said at the end of last year.

He went on to note that, "By establishing two independent companies, a separation will better enable the management teams of each company to focus their exclusive attention on their distinct value creation opportunities." It is, in other words, a symbiotic move. 

But lest there be any doubt about a divestiture, Red Lobster's most recent results are likely to put such discontent to rest. On Monday, Darden reported preliminary earnings for its fiscal third quarter. And while the entire company struggled, Red Lobster was far and away the worst among Darden restaurant brands, which also include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

For the three months ended Feb. 23, same-store sales at the seafood chain dropped 8.8%. It was Red Lobster's worst quarterly comp since the financial crisis -- and, consequently, quite possibly the worst of all time.

To add insult to injury, moreover, Darden's darling -- that is, Olive Garden -- reported similarly downbeat results. Over the same three-month stretch, comparable-store sales at the Italian eatery were off by 5.4%. And that's on top of a 4.1% fall in the year-ago period. Compared to 2012, in other words, sales at Olive Garden locations are down by nearly 10% -- sounds pretty bad until you consider that Red Lobster's tanked by more than 15%.

At the end of the day, unless a miraculous turnaround materializes over the next few months, it's hard to criticize Darden's decision to cut its losses with Red Lobster and double down on rejuvenating its bread and butter, Olive Garden. Will this be enough to ignite a renaissance at the Italian eatery and thereby Darden itself? That remains to be seen. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

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  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 6:31 PM, asacco518 wrote:

    The reason Red Lobster is doing so bad is there menu prices. I loved eating at Red Lobster but the price of a meal has gotten out of my families price range. Lower your prices some and people will come back.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 6:38 PM, Howdie wrote:

    Chain restaurants all pretty much suck. As soon as they get beyond 25-50 locations the food becomes nothing more than corporate-generated middle-of-the-road banal fodder.

    When's the latest time you ate at Howard Johnson? There used to be hundreds and hundreds. Now there are two.

    RL and OG just go bankrupt already. I'm tried or reading about it.

    Yardhouse, for now it's very good. And of course there are only about 50. I'm hoping Darden doesn't drop the quality to compete on price and/or increase profit. If it does, it will suffer the same fate.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 6:41 PM, johnels wrote:

    I remember 20 yrs ago or so, I could get a sampler platter that was loaded with a good variety of menu items. It was my favorite and the food was excellent. Within the last 10 yrs they eliminated the platter I liked. Now you can build a platter with limited choices of items. Very disappointing. The last few times I ate there I found the food more like something you would get at Long John Silvers. Only the biscuits were good. Everything else was obviously frozen food, not fresh and it just didn't taste good. I vowed never to go back and I haven't. Now I find out that Olive Garden is owned by the same people that ruined Red Lobster, I won't eat there either. Failure is what you get when you try to boost profits at the cost of quality. Increase prices if you must but NEVER EVER cut the quality of your food. Never. Go back to your menu 30 years ago, make your food fresh wherever possible and price it as necessary. Do this and I will return. Might not eat there as often due to budget but I will always opt for QUALITY over quantity.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 6:41 PM, nellen3329 wrote:

    Nice place to eat, but they won't offer health insurance to their employees. Tells me all I need to know about them. If they don't care for their employees, I don't care about the corporation. Have taken my business to where their former employees will be treated like humans.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:04 PM, Itsatisfies1 wrote:

    If they are going broke how could they afford to pay for employee's health insurance?

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:27 PM, Mark3629876 wrote:

    John Maxfield, it does not matter what reasoning you have in ANY article, the moment you write "at the end of the day" when you don't actually mean that something happened when a day closes, you lose your audience.

    Imagine if I were speaking to you but had some huge strange animal carved in my forehead. Would you be concentrating on what were saying? That's what it is like to an audience when they read or hear "at the end of the day."

    We need to stamp out the "at the end of the day" disease please. Thanks

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:38 PM, sithlord1966 wrote:

    I can remember back in the late 70's early 80's if you were going to Red Lobster you were going OUT! You dressed up, the food was of high quality as was the service and atmosphere. Fast forward 30+ years. I went there with my wife one night to a brand new RL in my hometown a few years back. Ordered grouper off their "fresh fish" menu and the cost of this meal was 30 some odd bucks. So I figured for that price I'd get half the damn fish and leave fat and happy, right? Oh NO! 2 little 4 inch x 4 inch un-breaded squares of fish that eerily resembled McDonalds fillet o' fish patties with the breading scraped off. And overcooked so bad there wasn't a bit of moisture left in either of them served on a bed of dried up rice pilaf. A few years later and supposedly under new management we went back and I got king crab legs. The meat in the more narrower parts of the legs was so hard you could break your teeth on it and it was painfully obvious it had traveled from freezer to freezer for at lest 2 years getting severely freezer-burned before making it to my plate....cost of that bill was over $90.00 for my wife and I. But this is the sad reality of American dining these days. Once some corporate conglomerate group of educated idiots get their d--k beaters all over it it goes to s--t in no time flat. We will never, EVER be back to "Dead Lobster" again!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:46 PM, JohnMaxfield37 wrote:

    Mark3629876 -

    You make a fair point.


  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:56 PM, vicky wrote:

    I'm sorry to hear about this. The Red Lobster we go to is our favorite restaurant. Food is always good and the service is exemplary most of the time.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:13 PM, ababacabac wrote:

    Olive Garden back in the 90s used to be very good. I went to one or two locations last year and the food simply did not seem to be the same quality as I remembered. In fact, if I want frozen food microwaved, I can stay at home and make a better meal. The last time I went to Red Lobster it was "ok", but not as good as the 90s or 80s. I expect to pay a lot for good quality seafood, but not for marginal at best seafood. Not providing health insurance for employees and purportedly dropping schedules to part-time to avoid Obomination is also disturbing. Divesting RL may be a good idea and for Olive Garden perhaps they should divest the microwave...

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:16 PM, BigDave77 wrote:

    Been to the one in Brunswick, GA twice. Big disappointment both times. Not going back.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:50 PM, ziggytown wrote:

    10 years ago we would make the trip south of Bakersfield Ca. to Valencia Ca. for Magic Mountain then dinner at The Red Lobster, currently I live in Valencia and have eaten at Red Lobster 3 times and each time I was very disappointed. The company open one in Bakersfield and that was not even close to being a good experience.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:52 PM, crazy2sew2000 wrote:

    My husband was on the opening crew for the first red lobster in Wisconsin. The food is so bad at every single rl we have been to since then that I would throw away any gift card we are given because I would not torture anyone else by giving it away. When you take away all the good of a restaurant, you are only left with garbage. I hate to say it but everything I am saying is the cold truth. And we did go back to that same restaurant that he helped open. I am only surprised it is still open.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:59 PM, Kirkhulk wrote:

    Ever fill out an application to work for these whack jobs? You have to fill it out online and it'll take you probably an hr to do it if you're somewhat proficient at computer skills. They practically want you to tell them what you had for dinner last freaking night.

    Red Lobster?

    Nah, I'll go to a more friendlier place to eat.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:04 PM, justAWyoFool wrote:

    I don't mind paying Red Lobster pricing since I don't have one in the small town where I live. I have been getting the King Crab legs there for years. The last few years I have been served disgusting things they call king crab. I can buy king crab legs at my local grocer for $7.99 a pound and it is fresher and doesn't stink like the stuff you now get a Red Lobster. I had been going back thinking I just hit an "off" night. No such luck. I won't go back again. They used to have the highest standards in the chain business that I could tell. Those days are long gone.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:24 PM, jlreese47 wrote:

    justAWyoFool, could you tell me the name of your local grocer? $7.99 a pound for king crab legs. They cost, at least, $17 bucks a pound everywhere else. If I could buy them at 8 bucks, I would never eat out either.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:27 PM, princelaife wrote:

    My wife and I used to like dinning at Red Lobster for our special holidays and events including when out of town friends visited us. Over the years we recognized this problem happens. Food are not served as they used to be. Few changes on menus from time to time. My wife passed and have not been there for couple years and now hear this. With economic downturn service and quality slowly diminished away. Sad but like many comments here it doomed to happen to big birds in the territory.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:38 PM, debbie114 wrote:

    Our nearest Red Lobster is 50 miles away, so we don't get to go there very often. My husband and I took my mom theret to eat a couple of days ago for her 91st birthday. She and I both love lobster. Now, I'm not a connoisseur, but I can appreciate good shellfish....and I know bad shellfish. Our lobster tails were tough and dry. It wasn't the first time either. The bill for 3 of us topped $102.00 and that's a bit much for a bad meal. I will be hesitant to go back.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:43 PM, downeysoca wrote:

    What do they think is going to happen when the people that used to frequent restaurants like these can't afford to now because of economy, so unless Red Lobster gets a $1 menu, kids 15 and under eat free every night, or they fake it and start charging $300 a plate to fool the top 5% of money makers in our country, then they like a lot of other similar type of restaurants are going to go under and then that's just more people without work, get with it big business your not going to make money if we can't make money!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:51 PM, slowboat wrote:

    Since Clarence Otis and the Darden bunch showed their HATE of the USA and its flag with its policy of refusing to allow the U. S flag to be displayed in their restaurants, these pathetic restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Longhorn Steak Houses) have suffered loss of business! These Obama loving socialist communist types just don't get it that Americans will not tolerate high prices, poor food, and anti-American hate! 've not been back to any of these American hater places, and I will NEVER go to any of them again!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:06 PM, lnoren wrote:

    We've given Red Lobster three tries in the last 2 years... 3 strikies, they're out. The food was horrible. The stuffed mushrooms were swimming in grease, and shriveled. You couldn't tell what was inside them. After the first bite, it was returned. None of the food looks anything like the pictures on the menu - not even close. It's either overdone or underdone, and totally uneatable. Don't know what happened to quality control, and chef/cook training, but this location has no cooks who can put out a good seafood dish. Perhaps with the economy they've scaled down on personnel pay, thus having cooks who don't give a damn what they put out. This is not the Red Lobster I remember 5 or more years ago. It used to be a "special occasion" to go here. Now, it's "well, we're out of places to go" and Red Lobster is not even a consideration.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:27 PM, JoeGuy wrote:

    I worked as a bartender for RL from 82-01. In the beginning the prices were reasonable; place was always busy. every 6 months or so; prices went up, finally becoming ridiculous. Meanwhile; more casual dining chains emerged; and RL no longer had the whole field to itself. Finally, after several losing quarters, General Mills spun off the restaurants, creating Darden. they tried to market it several ways; including liquor sales, and invested a lot, but, managers under portioned to make it look like they had less product waste, meanwhile; china coast lost millions. they finally turned to cutting labor costs; by having 2-3 servers in the whole place; and mgrs. walking food. service declined. it became a formula- get them out in 40 mins. and foot traffic slowed to where servers couldn't make a living. the whole concept became unsatisfactory to customers; who realized they were getting ripped off.

    However, I do believe that the company can be fixed, and once again popular, if they returned to their 70's and 80's concept. That of reasonably priced seafood, fried or broiled, and jumbo drinks for under 4 bucks. a family of 4 should be able to eat, even for less than 50.00$, with two small kids and 2 adults. forget about company cars and rolex watches for the big shots in Orlando. And I really think before spinning off Red Lobster- they need to spin off Clarence Otis. Get that guy from, 'The Profit,' on CNBC!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:50 PM, doraglasberg wrote:

    There's nothing wrong with barely edible food at cheap prices but when your prices are now equal to that of a decent diner - YOU LOSE.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:53 PM, wolfchief wrote:

    The food is great, the price is above the price and they don't give enough at Red Lobster.

    But I do notice that when I have eaten there I say to the workers your going to go out of business by give small portions.

    Many of the workers there can take offense to that to my suggestions,which was more of constructive criticism not to be unkind nor was I being offensive which was not my intent.

    Well they protected the Red Lobster to the point that they are now unprotected without out a job and the public demands once again can be triumphed once again where the public set policy not the company.

    We are the "Boss" don't let anyone tell you different "Red Lobster" Am I clear? Fix ASAP............Mr Public!!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:59 PM, MotleyGirl wrote:

    I used to love going to Red Lobster. It was my favorite place for a night out five or six years ago. This might sound silly, but I liked the decor, the lighting and the service - the whole experience - as much as the food. But then as the years went on I felt like the service went downhill and the food portions shrank. The shrimp in most dishes is basically salad shrimp at this point - they used to be large and succulent. I just feel like the value isn't there anymore. When I look at my plate and feel disappointed, it's hard to want to go back.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 11:11 PM, Vitabrits wrote:

    The only good Darden chain is Yardhouse and that is because of the MASSIVE beer selection. We have two in MA and they are always packed. The food is still decent but people come for the beer. As long as the service remains decent too, I see it as a good growth chain.

    I'm just glad that I live in MA and when I want good seafood, there are several places I can go to and get fresh seafood. Hell, if you live near any ocean, I have no idea why you would eat at a Red Lobster when there is most likely fresh seafood be served somewhere else.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:10 AM, Englishplease wrote:

    @sithlord1966 for my wife and me-not my wife and I. This non-standard use of I is epidemic. When did English get this bad in this country? The same applies to the grossly overused and improper use of the reflexive pronoun myself.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:37 AM, colleen wrote:

    I don't have a comment, I have a question. I have been going to RL for years and years, but not often. Every time I am there, I note the tank of live lobsters by the waiting area. I used to think they actually cooked and served them, but I never saw anyone from the kitchen retrieve one for an order. Now I wonder if that's just part of the decor. Does anyone know if they ever actually use those lobsters? Or are they pets?

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:22 AM, mamamia2275 wrote:

    I think it must depend on the part of the country you are in. In western Washington state the RL's are packed every night. The food is good for the most part. I was there last month, had to wait 20 minutes for a table on a Thursday. Usually the food is good. I agree the prices have gotten outrageous.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:42 AM, jimkim99 wrote:

    I last ate there in the 70s and it was going downhill then. I recently went back and all the money was spent on decor. The coconut shrimp was popcorn shrimp, the fried shrimp was overcooked about 30 minutes and minute, and the shrimp scampi was the size of a half inch and chewey. This was far worse than a Captain Ds and about 30 times the price. I will never be back, this place is sh*t. How can a place survive serving such rotten food? The prices are ridiculous for frozen food too.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:44 AM, jimkim99 wrote:

    I wouldn't buy the place for a dollar

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 2:27 AM, NordicSoul wrote:

    Recently went to Red Lobster and was surprised how the food has gone down hill!

    You wonder why restaurants fail...this is a prime example of extremely poor quality.

    The fish is not fresh...shrimp skewers are served with inferior small shrimp, nothing is of quality. It is much like cafeteria food. Most people who seek a seafood dinner want "Fresh" fish and absolutely ...."Quality" and are willing to pay for it. There are a variety of fresh seafood restaurants in Southern California with decent pricing and great delicious food. Red Lobster needs to drop the biscuits and get fresh sour dough warm bread, and get rid of bagged lettuce for salads, offer a great garlic cheesy mashed potato dish or potato skins or buttery rice pilaf. Just doesn't make sense charging semi high prices for poor quality food. Start over and do your research!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:42 AM, ReallyLily wrote:

    Simple......lower your prices. People don't have the dining out money they used to have. Your food doesn't require much preparation anyway, it's all mostly from frozen foods. Cheaper to buy the seafood and cook it at home, way cheaper. If I want a quality seafood dinner on a special occasion then it's Anthony's Home Port in and around the city of Seattle.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:53 AM, Disgustedman wrote:

    Frankly, I can see RL and OG surviving as "Buffet" restaurants. Otherwise it's into the crapper.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 6:32 AM, hatenapa wrote:

    I recently ate at a Red Lobster for the first time in several years, and to say they have gone way, way downhill is being kind. Started with the 99% lettuce salad, they used to bring a salad loaded with cukes, tomatoes, cheese, etc. I had a surf and turf, with rubbery lobster and steak that was as tough as turf. Their service is slow and indifferent. Cutting quality and portions and thinking you will make more money never, ever works for a restaurant.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 8:04 AM, Poorthing wrote:

    If you want uninspired over priced sea food this is your place to go. Generally the biscuits are the highlight of the meal. The pictures of the food do not remotely resemble the meal you are served in most cases.

    Yep,they are failing for the usual reasons, the value of the product does not justify the price.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 8:49 AM, reconman330 wrote:

    My wife and I had been going to dine at both RL and OG for many years. The increased dinner and other prices have prevented us from dining any longer. We noticed a decline in the service also.


  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 9:06 AM, BigFED wrote:

    For all you non-Harvard, non-economics degreed folks complaining about the prices:

    THE COST OF EVERYTHING has gone UP. The wholesale price of the ingredients, the transportation costs of EVERYTHING in the entire supply chain, even those pesky MINIMUM wage rates every one wants, but don't want to pay for!!! Where the hell do think the money comes from to pay for that meal you want? If YOUR utilities and grocery bull goes up without a corresponding increase in YOUR pay, something has to give!!! You eat less (smaller portions) or less often (customer loss), etc!!!

    There may be some valid reasons to not like RL, service, quality, flavor, etc,, but blaming them for high prices is NOT valid!!! Are YOU to blame for grocery prices going up? I like grapes, but I have to cut back when the price goes up because getting them to the store costs more. My fault? Not hardly!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 9:28 AM, tpicciani wrote:

    They can turn their sales around with one 4 word phrase: NO MORE FROZEN FOOD! That is the beginning and end of their problem with every Darden restaurant. People do not like going to a restaurant, paying high prices, and finding most of the entrees come out of a box that was in the freezer until that afternoon.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:08 AM, TheWizardOfOdd wrote:

    From the looks of that Chart I believe they would be better off to just blame Obama. 5 years, 6 good quarters. Now that's what I call a Depression

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:19 AM, JuergenH wrote:

    Poor quality food, prices out of whack. They deserve to go under.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:20 AM, JClarkeee wrote:

    Good I hope they go out of business, I will never eat there, because they support the clubbing of baby seals which is totally effed up, and I'm not about that, and nobody should be.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:29 AM, TRH58 wrote:

    Same inferior leadership as MCD and the USA.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:32 AM, dankusDLK wrote:

    Their prices went up, their quality went down, but the same didn't happen to their competition like Outback. Ergo, customer flight. The free market remains in effect. Darden made all this noise about Obamacare which had a direct impact as well (because taking a political stance when over half your customers take the opposite stance is bad for business), but the real damage was when they said they had to raise prices to account for Obamacare. Supply and Demand determine price, not murky political accounting! When Outback heard that Darden was raising prices, they surely smiled, changed nothing, and now have their foot on Dardens throat.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:36 AM, WorldwideShaman wrote:

    One primary reason my family does not eat at red Lobster any longer is their prices are inconsistant with their food and service. Also, Red Lobster will advertise a seemingly fantastic offer of abundant seafoods at really nice prices 'BUT' when you get there and try to place an order for same~They tell you that the advertised specials do not apply to their locations and only at select other locations.

    Doesn't matter which location you choose, the answer is always the same~"OTHER LOCATIONS!"

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:44 AM, FCM1 wrote:

    The only people who eat the crap at Red Lobster are those who have no idea what real seafood is. That place has been awful for decades...truly horrible stuff.

    I'd imagine that's where midwesterners and the Olive Garden fans go when they think they're having a fancy meal out.

    Sayanora, bad restaurant chain!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:49 AM, meeeto wrote:

    Seems that all companies that said that they are against ACA are having problems!!! ;-) Right wing anti-American, Anti-Veteran companies!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 10:58 AM, wrevansii wrote:

    This is a problem for most retail businesses. HIgher employee wage costs, health insurance, material costs, payroll taxes, federal, state and local taxes, etc. You can only price your product so high before folks quit coming.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 11:24 AM, MWalker1780 wrote:

    God bless America's education system, we're going places!!! So depressing

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 11:35 AM, TrayTait wrote:

    You know what would be AWESOME??? If I could go ONE day without reading a slanted, opinionated, fact-less article about Darden, and it's restaurants. Which is usually followed by comments from people that have no idea what they are talking about.

    Especially the MORONS that boycott Darden because "they don't offer healthcare"... Which, of course, they do. They ALWAYS have, long before the POS, I mean POTUS made it the law.

    And even if they didn't, would boycotting be the way to go? You want a company to treat their employees better, so you stop going to the restaurant, where those employees relay on you and your disposable income to live. So in essence, you are harming them MUCH more than the company ever did.

    People are misinformed, and have been for quite some time. Darden always offered DAY ONE medical care, not 90 day probation, DAY ONE. Then the morons decided to implement Obamacare, and that had to go away. So they offered all full time employees medical through United.

    So before you start boycotting, or making untrue statements, research what you are talking about... otherwise, you just look ignorant.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 11:35 AM, bgr21 wrote:

    The reasons for failure.

    Service, quality of food, menu and prices.

    They have also changed their menu and deleted so many seafood items. Do not know about everyone else but I do not go to Red Lobster for chicken.

    Have been there for dinner and food arrives cold (crab legs still frozen).

    Go back to fresh seafood if possible and decent portions at reasonable prices.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 11:38 AM, buckeroobob wrote:

    Many years ago, I worked at a Red Lobster restaurant in New York.

    Their grilled fish, steamed fish, and lobsters were good, but their fried food sucked.

    Worse still was the way the company treated its employees. Sometimes, even before I had arrived at work, they had seated four or five tables in my section. So, after clocking in, I was already in the weeds.

    Also, as a server, if your customers were to walk out on a tab, you were expected to pay the bill yourself. Otherwise, you would be written up and put to work in the kitchen. So, the servers would all pool together money for a fellow server whose customers had walked out on a bill.

    For some reason, Red Lobster has always attracted belligerent customers. So, the servers would frequently take quite a bit of abuse. I'm quite sure you've already seen videos of this on YouTube.

    Of course, Red Lobster and its parent company, Darden, do nothing to protect and defend their servers.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:01 PM, byrontx wrote:

    People do not want to pay premium prices for Chinese farm-raised, factory processed tilapia. Then, too, when Darden's decided to jump into politics with both feet I promised that my families' feet would not cross their threshold. For the most part we no longer go to corporate "Box" restaurants anyway now. Our locally-owned ones are so much better.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:05 PM, tgpsillas wrote:

    I attribute the sales drop at Red Lobster to 2 things:

    Bad Weather - affected most businesses.

    Customer Have No money - Even Darden should know better. Darden is fighting any rise of the minimum wage. If people can't survive, how are they going to afford to eat in your restaurants?

    I know of at least 2 boycotts, since Darden announced their public campaign against the raising of minimum wages. Duh? Do you think people are repulsed by that and maybe staying away from Darden restaurants? I used to eat at Darden locations almost every week. I have not been back since their campaign against higher minimum wages and will probably never return there. I did not go to my niece's birthday dinner, scheduled at Red Lobster last week. Instead, we all ate at my house. That cost Red Lobster over $140 in lost sales, plus $21 in lost tips to its workers. Now imagine if 100 other families do the same. That is another $14K in weekly sales lost, due to their attitude towards low wage workers.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:07 PM, jaybird wrote:

    Crab legs under ten bucks a pound are most like snow crab and not king crab. As for the menu prices just go to the meat dept at any store and compare seafood and beef. You can find good steaks for 6-8 dollars a pound. Shrimp is frequently over 10, scallops 15-19 a pound and good cuts of fish (other than catfish, whitefish etc) run 10 to about 20 a pound and all of these prices seem to be going up at three times the rate of beef. This could acct. for their Longhorn chain doing better than the Seafood div. and Olive Garden is a mess except for their salad dressing!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:09 PM, websiteauthor wrote:

    Chef Robert Irvine needs to rescue RL . . . he can call it "Restaurant Chain Impossible"

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 12:50 PM, jonfromny wrote:

    That's weird because just last weekend I had to wait about a half hour for a table during "Lobster week".

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:05 PM, moonbaby2 wrote:

    Darden SUCKS period. They treat their employee's like crap. Their food is crap. It's all crap!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:10 PM, SusanC wrote:

    I, personally, like Red Lobster. I have noticed, though, that the portions have gotten smaller, while the prices have gotten higher. It's sad to see such a good place implode because of these choices.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:11 PM, Oldman46 wrote:

    I'm not a Harvard trained economist; all I did was run a business that grew during the last recession. To those who say prices can't be lowered, yes they can since the alternative will be going out of business. Since I'm not Harvard trained I know you can both lower prices and not shaft your employees while you're doing it.

    There are numerous factors involved including weather and competition but what is not being addressed is the amount of overhead being assesed.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:22 PM, Marilyn888 wrote:

    To John Maxfield, your reply to Mark3629876 is a stand-up courteous one. May you go far in life w/ such positive attitude. Open to criticism, yet non-judgmental and kind. Your fortunate parents must be very proud of you.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:33 PM, SybilSmart wrote:

    I ordered food at a Red Lobster once and only once! The food was totally disgusting and on top of that it was cold and looked like it was days old or came from the freezer. Left everything on the table and walked out. Never went back!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:34 PM, LegalGunOwner wrote:

    Olive Garden isn't an "Italian" restaurant, it's a chain that pushes bread and salad (iceberg lettuce), then a Chef Boy-ar-dee entree down it's patrons throats. It's as Italian as Red Lobster is a lobster restaurant.

    For not much more, one can dine at McCormick and Schmicks, for instance, and get really good, fresh seafood. THAT is why Red Lobster is failing.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:38 PM, Hussar2000 wrote:

    The restaurant and bar business to me seems to favor the fast and agile. In most towns, restaurants and bars come and go as fads, trends, and demographics change. The locations are always the same, but restaurants change owners, cuisine, and motifs rather frequently to stay fresh and profitable. Yes there are some that seem to hang forever (McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's), but I believe those to be far and few in between and most end up out of business (Howard Johnson, Lums, Grants, Brown Derby, Beefsteak Charlies).

    A logo change and menu update will not help the Darden brands. They need to change completely. Olive Garden needs to change its name and its cuisine from just Italian to include all Mediterranean fare: southern French, Spanish, Greek, and even middle eastern. Without wholesale change you just are going out for spaghetti. Red Lobster needs to change names and cuisine. I mean it is a lobster restaurant that doesn't have any locations in Maine, Massachusetts, or New Hampshire. It should be turned into an upscale grill and seafood restaurant that offers unique and out of the ordinary menu items (maybe a wild game month instead of all you can eat crab legs).

    I don't think the current plans of logo and menu changes go far enough and are only delaying the ultimate chapter 13 filing.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:42 PM, frellmedead wrote:

    Just like Olive Garden and other businesses, rampant, unbridled, reckless corporate greed is killing Red Lobster. Their food has gotten too expensive and the quality so bad that it is disgusting. Get rid of the fat cats at the top, and they could be profitable again by improving quality and slightly lowering prices.

    As far as the logo change for Olive Garden, it is like putting lipstick on a pig. The idiot sales and marketing people wasted $500k at the company I work for by changing the logo, and it had zero effect on sales.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 1:50 PM, frellmedead wrote:

    As I mentioned in response to an article about the Olive Garden's logo change, this is the result of unbridled, rampant, and reckless corporate greed that have resulted in overly high prices and terrible food quality. Get rid of the fat cats at the top, and both restaurants can return to profitability by increasing quality and portion sizes, and slightly reducing prices.

    As for the logo change, it is like putting lipstick on a pig. The idiot sales and marketing department at the company I work wasted $500k on a logo change, and it didn't improve sales one bit.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 2:05 PM, vcmg wrote:

    The problem with chain restaurants today is that the food generally is not prepared onsite. It comes in prepackaged or frozen and is merely arranged and heated in the kitchen.

    Several years ago, the food was prepared in the kitchen by someone who knew what was happening. The people who work in the kitchens of chains today do not have that ability.

    There may be a few exceptions to this generality, but they are few.

    Local restaurants usually prepare food onsite. That is why it tastes better.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 2:47 PM, amygirl wrote:

    The last time I went to RL, it was some of the worst food I have ever tasted! I had the stuffed Flounder and Shrimp skewers.... The Crab stuffed flounder was soggy and runny, the shrimp was not moist and flavorful either and the rice was hard.. It is no shock to me that they are going under, I know I will never go back

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 3:12 PM, rjohns wrote:

    It's real simple, there are plenty of food shows on tv and the web. People found out how to make the food they went out for and also found out what it is supposed to taste like . It doesn't taste like chain restaurant food stuff.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 3:44 PM, Gennaro wrote:

    In my opinion their commercials on TV have no comparison to the food they serve. So I would think first time customers wouldn't go back to Red Lobster a second time.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:03 PM, Trip wrote:

    I can go to Outback or Logans Steak House and get Steak and Lobster for 14.99 where at Red Lobster Steak and Lobster is 24.00.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:41 PM, ChrisPlatt wrote:

    The chain restaurants died when the housing bubble burst.

    Poor people stopped going out when they no longer believed they were builing equity.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:49 PM, rocky30018 wrote:

    Was at Red Lobster, Phoenix last week, had a very enjoyable meal, that day I had a craving for fried sea scallops and my lady had cod. No alcoholic beverage, just iced tea, thought the bill was a little hi, but did enjoy the meal

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:53 PM, christinia wrote:

    Red Lobsters servings have gotten smaller. Paying almost thirty dollars for a steak and lobster tail, to my disappointment was very small compared to the good old days.. Compared to most of the lobsters in the live tank, I must had received the baby of them all. Seems like when some of the meals are expensive ones RL could throw in a drink, soda, coffee, or tea. I guess the cheddar biscuits are suppose to fill you up, so you do not notice the size of your meal. Another restaurant I have noticed this trait in is Cracker Barrel. Now, instead of food being served on a plate, they put each thing in little bowls and serve it that way on a plate.I can imagine this is why buffets are doing better,then restaurants.With everybody's phobia against fat people, and the govt trying to say how much, and what we can eat, this trend will continue, where buffets are doing a heck of a biz, and the others with their disappointing smaller servings, with even crappier service will go down hill!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 5:26 PM, JAY1934 wrote:

    I've quit going to Red Lobster because it's too high price for what you get. It's manned by too many incomps. Olive Garden is about the same. I went a few times but was never satisfied, the same as Red Lobster. There's too many good places to eat to spend your money on this chain. Wouldn't hurt me if they went out of business. The last visit they advertise a number of dishes free with the desserts listed. When I requested a dessert they said that one was extra. I finally found one that wasn't extra which I wouldn't eat even if it was free.

    Terrible experience.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 5:39 PM, Meathead wrote:

    Got a good case of food poisoning at Olive Garden in 1986 in Pensacola, Florida. Think it was the salad dressing. Haven't been back in one since.

    Just had two great meals at Red Lobster in Jan and Feb in Tyler, Texas. A bit expensive, but very good. Always crowded - wait of 20 to 45 minutes is normal.

    If you don't like the price, quantity or the quality, of groceries, email Washington, DC because that's where the economy is being destroyed.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 5:59 PM, Norton wrote:

    One thing hoy shot owners like Darden will never understand , you can get away with serving a poor quality meal only once ...maybe twice , people will not come back . Word spreads . Add to that Dardins remarks about cutting hours and healthcare for it's employees ? Who in the heck does he think patronizes his restaurants ? It's certainly not the Ruths Chris crowd . It's

    WORKING people who don't give a hoot about the expectations of the stockholders , and we all know what Darden's in it for , big profits that will always lead to lower quality . And yea , people took Darden's snide remarks about employee cuts personal , look at your Pal Papa John , his ratings dropped from a 38 to a 13 , because he had to play tough guy too .

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 9:51 PM, curiousreader wrote:

    Boycotting a restaurant because they don't offer healthcare? Boycotting a restaurant because they are against raising minimum wage? LOL

    You are hurting the servers and employees of the restaurant as much as you are hurting the restaurant. Darden is a publicly traded company. You are hurting the stock holders also which may just be one of your close friends or family members.

    If a Dardenrestaurant has a net profit margin of 10%, which is probably high, and you boycott the location and goes elsewhere and spend $100 you probably think you cost the restaurant $100. You did cost them $100 in sales but only $10 in actual profits. Meanwhile, the waiter that you also boycotted just lost $15 at least if you are a minimum tipper. The restaurant would have also spent approximately 25% of those sales to pay their managers, cooks, dishwashers, etc.

    So while you boycotted the restaurant for what in my opinion are ridiculous reasons to begin with and cost it $10 in profits you also boycotted all of the employees and cost them $40 in wages and saleries. You cost the employees that you so desperately want to help four times that of what you cost the restaurant.

    How did you help? You didn't.

    This post simply offers the economics of your actions. I think Longhorn is a decent restaurant and have always disliked Red Lobster and Olive Garden. I am a multi-location restaurant owner and do not frequent chain locations like these anyhow. Them going out of business actually is good for my businesses. However, those that are ignorant to thier actions and make decisions like sheep need to be eduacted.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 11:10 PM, cates1061 wrote:

    I don't know why these idiots go by statistics....look .....the problem is your food is way over priced.....people just don't eat at seafood places like they do say Chinese buffets and Mexican Restaurants and fast food places...speaking of like KFC...Jesus..there prices along with there skimpy chicken with no meat...God it's a wonder they are still in business.....look at your products...your pricing...create more what you gotta do to get your business back...and quit looking at sales charts from last year and year before....worry about now

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 1:06 AM, Bluecrab43 wrote:

    COO,CEO, Anybody listening Has anyone tried the Admiral's Plate lately .From 1 to 10 I give it a (2) that's how bad RL has become.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 2:32 AM, JeddClampett wrote:

    I live in Louisiana. There's always quality seafood here at decent prices, good places to eat. I tried a new Red Lobster here and it has a bizarre feel to it. It's like it doesn't belong there and the food is like what I remember as a TV dinner from the early 70s. It was crap. Crappity crap Crappity crap Crappity crap crap...crap crap crap

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 4:03 AM, greyhound44 wrote:

    I've never been to a Red Lobster and only twice to an Olive Garden 12 + years ago.

    Don't guess I need consider either.

    retired expatriate MD

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 1:14 PM, arnerator wrote:

    I am surprised that there are no comments on one of the other major reasons people avoid RL and OG..... SALT , and LOT'S OF IT. The typical meal is so loaded with it, that it's almost a prescription for HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.

    After a while it began to taste as though everything had been cooked in Sea Water.... totally unhealthy.

    OG had another problem. They would advertise an "endless plate" of refills on some dish or another. They would bring an incredibly small plate of it, and during the rest of the meal, you would never even be able to make eye contact with your server until the bill was presented.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 3:57 PM, cmalek wrote:


    "Their prices went up, their quality went down, but the same didn't happen to their competition like Outback."

    Sorry to rain on your parade but the prices at Outback DID go up. Used to be able to order some low end entrees for $8-$9. Now the least expensive ones are $12.95. Went to Appleby's couple of weeks ago. All entrees were $16.95 and up, even Mac & Cheese was $12.95. Finally ordered a burger for $10.95.

    As a poster said above about high prices, the prices at ALL restaurants have gone up. What do you expect when the cost of everything has been going up?

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 5:35 PM, BANDIT59 wrote:

    My complaint is with their coupons. They are always geared towards couple. For example I keep getting one sent to my email for buy 2 adult entrees and get $10 off. That's great if there are 2 of ya. But I'm single and would like to see coupons that I can actually use. I mean why not send me one that says I would get $5 off my entree.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 8:06 PM, ahmorgan wrote:

    Echoing what many have said, but between the loss in quality since the '90s when the food was reliably good, and the increased prices,

    So, in the last 5 years I haven't thought much of Red Lobster as a good meal choice.

    But the final blow was the management proclamations against the Affordable Care Act, and how they were cutting staff hours to avoid having to pay health care costs. Which yields employees who aren't committed to their jobs, and if they do show up, might prepare and serve my food while sick. Just lovely.

  • Report this Comment On March 14, 2014, at 5:53 PM, MCCrockett wrote:

    Americans seem to have a strange fascination with restaurant chains that I've never understood. Is it simply the familiarity of the name and that the meal might be comparable to that you had the last time?

    I discovered that I liked lobster after taking a date to a Chuck's Steakhouse in college. I haven't eaten that much lobster since then.

    The lobster that I have had since my days in college has been in Panama where its called langosta and Alaska. The restaurants where I ate lobster were locally owned.

    After retiring last year, I tried lobster at a Red Lobster that had opened in my city several years earlier. The first time that I had lobster it was great.

    I had an urge for lobster several months later. I went to Red Lobster again. This time there were so many spices sprinkled over the lobster tail that I couldn't even detect the flavor of the meat.

    Lobster (langosta) might have been inexpensive in Panama but it has never been inexpensive in the United States. If I am going to spend as much as is charged for lobster in the US, I want to taste the delicate flavors of the meat and not just spices or seasoned butter.

    I think that my point is that unless all the seafood is battered and fried, seafood restaurants should not use the franchise model. All restaurants need to be company owned and be in cities that are easily reachable from the port where the catch is unloaded.

  • Report this Comment On March 14, 2014, at 6:20 PM, savior wrote:

    For Starters, to me The Olive Garden is my least favorite of the Darden restaurants mentioned….Red Lobster always was my favorite until it priced it's self out of my range. I eat out quite a lot so I look for the more reasonable restaurants. Bring the prices back in line and affordable you might be surprised how busy it might get again….My advice dump The Olive Garden, people find it very easy to make Spagetti at home and most prefer to eat Lobster and Steak out at a reasonable priced restaurant. Just saying…..

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2014, at 11:30 AM, blues535i wrote:

    Leaving aside the fact that the food has gone south, Olive Garden itself has been on my skip list for a while because of either incompetent local management or a stupid corporate strategy. It involves having long wait times and customers milling about outside due to "no tables available". When you finally get see there are many empty tables!!!! Very annoying especially with elderly parents. So after seeing this many many times at several locations we just took it of the list. Seems they wanted to keep the "we are very desirable" image at all costs. Well on myself and my extended family it backfired. Haven't been back in years and never will be.

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 3:20 AM, firemegwhitman wrote:

    The reason sales are off is the food is terrible. I use to great there years ago. But today the salt content is high in everything. The rice pilaf is uneatable and give you a stomachache . The quality of the fish must the lowest grade you can find. Management of this company has run it into the ground by buying lousy food to increase margins line their pockets and now they wait for a nice severance package for a job well done. There should be no bonus of any kind and the executives should make no more than 200k for the lousy job they have done.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:54 PM, RedEyedDoc wrote:

    The Chico CA Red Lobster is outstanding, except for the prices.

    The wait staff is hardworking and motivated and the food is served hot and fast.

    Perhaps this one is the exception that proves the rule.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 6:46 PM, HKUriah wrote:

    There was once a Red Lobster located near where I work on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border.

    I went there once.

    I never went back for one very simple reason; I could go five minutes down the road to another resturaunt and get portions that were twice as large for half the price. And much better quality too. Most people I know who ate there had the same reaction. Red Lobster has no business charging so much for such small, mediocre quality portions. It just took longer for people who live west of the Hudson to figure this out.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2014, at 1:56 PM, joem789 wrote:

    My wife and I have been saying for years. If Red Lobster was cheaper, they would get more business. People automatically know they are going to have to wait in line to eat there. And for the price, it might not be worth it.


  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2014, at 1:59 PM, joem789 wrote:

    I also forgot to mention the fact that red Lobster coupons have always SUCKED. Clearly there's a company that never likes to give anything back. There are much better places to eat that give you alot for the money.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2015, at 5:51 PM, Tellthetruthbrit wrote:

    What I can't understand is why no one has really touched on the fact that Red Lobster is just another enhanced fast food joint like Olive G, Wendys, Applebees etc.

    The food itself is as low a quality that you can get away with. It is not a creation derived from years of Chef training, it is cooked from a manual by an operative trained at a seminar, It is dressed up with all that sugary, buttery slop that makes you feel ill when you finish it.

    Mind you it is no different to the indulge and bulge American diet that the billionaires who charge the earth for it never eat.

    In short Red Lobster is shite. I wait eagerly for its demise.

  • Report this Comment On July 25, 2015, at 11:02 PM, Brushclean wrote:

    Where does justAWyoFool live that he can buy king crab legs for $7.99 a pound? I'm moving there.

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