The History of Red Lobster

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Red Lobster is an American restaurant chain that has operations in eleven countries. These countries include the United States, Mexico, and Canada. It has operations in South America as well in addition to parts of Asia and the Middle East. Red Lobster specializes in seafood only. It even sees the preparation of seafood as a celebration of the delicacies that the oceans offer as food for humans. Some of the items on the restaurant’s menu include lobster, fish, and crab. Others are shrimp and mollusks. Interestingly, Red Lobster serves ordinary food as well including chicken, pasta, and steak. Therefore, you can find everything that you desire in a meal in this restaurant chain. You can also find money saving coupons to help save some money on your tab. Red Lobster built itself as a reliable establishment over time.

Red Lobster Logo

Here is a History of Red Lobster.

Early Years: 1968 to 1970

Bill Darden was an entrepreneur who was passionate about seafood. He knew how to make delicious and quality seafood and he could do it at a reasonable. Darden turned his passion and talent into a business on January 18, 1968. More specifically, he opened the first Red Lobster on this day in Lakeland, Florida. Darden did it with the help of another entrepreneur known as Charley Woodsby. It was a small family-owned startup at the time, but it was growing quickly

Initially, the name of this startup was ‘Harbor for Seafood Lovers’ according to billing records from Florida’s Secretary of State Office. The name changed to the Red Lobster when the restaurant underwent incorporation as the Red Lobster Inns on March 27, 1968. Four restaurants promptly followed this one. They were mainly in the southeast of the United States. Then in 1970, General Mills took note of the Red Lobster. It acquired this restaurant chain boosting its resources and therefore fueling its plans for expansion.

North American Expansion: 1970 to 1995

The expert level of management at General Mills and its accumulated resources in decades of operation helped Red Lobster expand. For example, did you know that Generals Mills’ history dates as far back as June 20, 1856? However, the company started its operations under the name General Mills in June 1928. This company started paying dividends in the same year. Shareholders of the company have received dividends annually since then.

The vast resources that General Mills offered to Red Lobster helped the restaurant to focus beyond the southeast of the United States. Instead, the company started expanding from coast to coast. It even went further than that by opening a branch in Canada in 1983. General Mills purchased 36 Ponderosa restaurants in Canada in the mid-1980s. It converted them into Red Lobster restaurants. Ponderosa entered the Canadian market in 1971. However, it was closing its operations in Canada at the time in favor of expanding in the US market.

Funding from General Mills also facilitated Red Lobster’s promotional campaigns. More specifically, the restaurant launched iconic advertising campaigns in 1979 including Sea Food Differently. Additionally, Red Lobster also held its first Loberfest in 1984. Red Lobster expanded its menu as well. For example, it introduced Popcorn Shrimp in 1974, and it created Cheddar Bay Biscuits in 1992. The expansion of the products offered by Red Lobster and the number of outlets it had continued until 1995.

Red Lobster Restaurant

Global Expansion: 1995 to 2018

General Mills decided to lump Red Lobster, Olive Gardens, and other smaller restaurant chains into one outfit known as Darden Restaurants. This new outfit became an independent publicly traded company in 1995. Bill Darden, the founder of Red Lobster, had died in the previous year. More specifically, he died of an extended illness on March 29, 1994. He was 75 years at the time. Fortunately, his legacy lived on under the corporate name, Darden Restaurants Incorporated, and under the brand, Red Lobster.
Darden Restaurants announced the sale of Red Lobster on May 16, 2014, to Golden Gate Capital. Golden Gate Capital had bought it for $2.1 billion. The transfer of ownership of the restaurant chain from Darden to Golden Gate took place on July 28, 2014. Then in August 2014, Red Lobster announced that it had moved its headquarters to the CNL Center in Orlando, Florida. The restaurant chain continued expanding despite these numerous challenges. Today, it has operations in 705 locations worldwide and it has plans of expanding even further.

Visit a Red Lobster restaurant today so that you can be part of its rich history in addition to tasting its delicious treats.

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