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Red Lobster is a U.S.marker chain of seafood restaurants. It also operates in Canadamarker and Japanmarker. It is aimed at the mid-level "casual dining" segment of the market. The menu includes a variety of specialty seafood and non-seafood entrees, appetizers, salads, and desserts.

Company growth and franchises

Red Lobster was founded in 1968 by entrepreneurs Bill Darden & Charley Woodsby. Originally billed as a "Harbor for Seafood Lovers", the original restaurant in Lakeland, Floridamarker was followed by several others throughout the Southeast. General Mills acquired Red Lobster in 1970 as a five-unit restaurant company. The chain expanded rapidly in the 1980s.

In 1995, Red Lobster (along with Olive Garden and other sister chains) became part of Darden Restaurants, which was spun off from General Mills as an independent, publicly traded corporation. Today, there are over 600 Red Lobster locations throughout the United States and Canada, as well as a small number of locations in Japanmarker.

Red Lobster twice offered an endless snow crab leg promotion. However, in 2003 the promotion resulted in parent company Darden Restaurants taking a $3 million charge to third quarter earnings resulting in CEO Edna Morris' departure from the company. The ill-timed promotion was launched amid high wholesale crab legs prices. The chain also underestimated how many times guest would order more. Further complicating matters at the restaurant level was the amount of time guests spent tableside in the restaurant cracking crab legs which increased wait times in the lobby and overall diminished guest capacity per hour. In more recent years, the chain has usually offered an endless shrimp promotion once per year.

There are currently 651 Red Lobster locations in the United States, 29 in Canada, and 25 in Japan.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Aside from its seafood and kids' toy treasure chest (since discontinued), Red Lobster is also known for its signature Cheddar Bay Biscuits which accompany a purchased entree; they are also available a la carte for carry out. The biscuits were introduced in the early 1990s; prior to that, Red Lobster served either garlic bread or hushpuppies.

The ingredients in the biscuits include a commercially available pre-blended biscuit mix and shredded cheddar cheese. After baking (in a convection oven which results in the finished product being of lighter consistency than using a conventional oven) they are brushed with a combination of "buttery sauce," consisting mostly of vegetable oil, salt, sugar and artificial coloring, and the same garlic seasoning powder used in the chain's shrimp scampi.

The preparation of the Cheddar Bay Biscuits is a complicated process. The biscuits must be mixed with ice water chilled to nearly 35 degrees. This is done to ensure that the biscuits rise properly. The cheese is proportioned and the biscuits arrive at Red Lobster in a bag, similar to how one would find cake mix in a store. This package is then added to a bowl with the proportioned cheese and chilled water then mixed. The batter is scooped onto a pan and placed into the oven where they bake for 8-12 minutes total. The biscuits, in their final preparatory stage, are then rubbed with garlic butter similar to the shrimp scampi butter.

The Cheddar Bay Biscuits contain 160 calories and 9 grams of fat per biscuit.

Some locations, when notified of a patron's birthday, will take one of the biscuits and drizzle it with strawberry sauce, in lieu of a small cake or sundae.

References

  1. http://www.dardenrestaurants.com/pdf/ar_2008.pdf
  2. Red Lobster locations (in Japanese)


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