If you are a regular diner of the famous Red Lobster lunch menu, then you may or may not have heard the rumors of an inevitable Red Lobster closing. Your favorite Red Lobster lunch menu items, like the delectable Shrimp Scampi, cheddar biscuit and the Coastal Soup, may be coming to an end.
The blog at LA Weekly recently did an article about the Red Lobster chain and it's Red Lobster Lunch Menu, stating that the seafood restaurant is not doing well. There was a flurry of activity on social media that turned an “uncertain future” for Red Lobster into a rumor that Red Lobster is closing. This article by LA Weekly went viral, as millions speculated on the possibility of Red Lobster shuttering its stores for good.
Red Lobster is based in Orlando, Florida.There are a total of 705 Red Lobster locations all over the world. The company also has restaurants in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Japan. In the last year alone, Red Lobster brought in $2.6 million dollars in sales to its parent company, Darden.
Darden, the culinary company that owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other sit-down favorites, has announced that it will either liquidate or spin off its Red Lobster Lunch Menu and Restaurants. They will be slowing down the opening of new restaurants.
In March 1968 Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby founded the seafood favorite. Red Lobster started in Florida and expanded to five stores in just two years. In 1970, General Mills bought out Red Lobster and with the backing of a major food company, Red Lobster's success exploded during the 1980s.
In 1995, Darden Restaurants, Inc.which was part of General Mills, bought up Red Lobster and several other restaurant chains.
Why are the Red Lobster Lunch Menu and other signature favorites being threatened?
The reason for the big changes with the Red Lobster lunch menu are quite simple: pure economics.
Though Red Lobster had brought in over two and a half million dollars last year, Darden is paying attention to another set of numbers – the trends. Last month, there was a 7% drop in foot traffic to Red Lobster's stores. There was even a drop in mid day activity where most attended to eat off their famous Red Lobster lunch menu. Though Red Lobster's lunch menu had added more dishes under $15, the prices have been going up overall, which speeds up the decline of the restaurant chain. Red Lobster had even tried adding more non-seafood items to its Red Lobster lunch menu, but that has not compensated for the overall drop in sales.
“As consumer demand dynamics have changed, Red Lobster's lunch menu priorities and operating support requirements have come to differ meaningfully from those of Darden's other brands, which are having greater success increasing appeal among consumers outside their core guest profiles,” Darden stated on Dec. 19. “As a separate company, Red Lobster will have greater freedom to pursue marketing and operating strategies that are more tailored to the needs of those consumers who fit its core guest profile.”
That statement from Darden suggests that the restaurant chain will remain open. For now. After all, closing Red Lobster strategy would leave a pretty big hole in both the hearts of both diners and the coiffures of restaurant profiteers. The statement also suggests that Red Lobster is being severed from the Darden family for going down – and bringing everyone else down with it.
Though it appears that Red Lobsters lunch menu is quite different in its approach to serving customers than the rest of the Darden family of restaurants and even Red Lobster consumer preferences, there is still a loyal following of customers who love their food. Many families have been dining there for decades, and would most likely continue to dine there in the future.
If there is a steady decline of diners to Red Lobster, then ultimately, lack of consumer demand would force the restaurant chain to close.
Still, the owners claim that closing up it's Red Lobster lunch menu and facilities will not happen.
Pressure by investors, after looking at the numbers and a long line of hard questioning, has moved the company in a different direction.
Future Plans for Red Lobster Lunch Menu
The numbers don't lie. So Darden is re-doing its strategy when it comes to the slowing and even negative growth of its major brands. The new management team can focus on running the Red Lobster for its significant cash flows. Meanwhile, the rest of the company can work on its other brands’ needs, including new directions in marketing and pricing strategies.
Cutting off Red Lobster is part of a bigger plan to hack away major costs. They will stop building Olive Garden restaurants altogether and halt acquiring new brands. The still will build more Longhorn Steakhouse restaurants, but simply slow down the process.
“The actions we’re taking are clearly exciting steps forward for Darden, and we believe these actions enhance our ability to create compelling value for our shareholders,” Clarence Otis, Darden’s chief executive, told analysts on a conference call on Thursday.
In contrast to Red Lobster closing, a Red Lobster spin-off, or selling off, is the plan for Darden. This could be interesting for die-hard Red Lobster fans, who still prefer a nice sit-down dinner and a hearty seafood meal.
Though this is a bold step by Darden, some say that it is not enough.
“While today’s announcement is a first step toward improving focus and operating execution at Red Lobster and Olive Garden, we view the plan Darden announced today as incomplete and inadequate,” James Mitarotonda, the hedge fund’s chief executive, said in a statement on Thursday.
What is in the future for the famous Red Lobster lunch menu and other favorites? No one knows for sure, but everyone seems to agree that Red Lobster may disappear as we know it today over the next couple of years.
A Red Lobster closing is not in the works for Darden, but we also do not know what another company will do with the chain, if and when Darden can find a willing party to actually purchase this endeavor.
The announcement of a severing of the chain is only the beginning of big plans for both Darden and Red Lobster.
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