Red Lobster bankruptcy: Is Orlando-based restaurant chain going out of business?

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Is Red Lobster going out of business? According to a report in Bloomberg, the national seafood restaurant chain is considering filing for bankruptcy protection to help relieve various financial pressures that have weighed on the company.

The outlet reported that the seafood restaurant chain is being advised by law firm King & Spalding on the subject, and that while discussions about restructuring are ongoing, no final decisions have been made about a bankruptcy filing.

In November 2023, Red Lobster made headlines after one of its executives revealed in a quarterly finance report that the group suffered an $11.3 million loss – and that the chain's popular "Ultimate Endless Shrimp" promotion was partly to blame.

FOX 35 reached out to Red Lobster on Wednesday for comment, but did not receive an immediate response. If we do, we'll update our story.

Did you know? Red Lobster got its start in Florida

Before it was a national chain, Red Lobster started as a single restaurant in Florida.

Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby opened the first Red Lobster restaurant in 1968 in Lakeland, Florida, which is about 90 minutes southwest of Orlando.

Over the next 60 years, the restaurant chain expanded, gained investors, changed owners, and at its peak, opened more than 700 restaurants across the United States.

In March 2015, Red Lobster moved its headquarters to downtown Orlando. 

How many restaurants does Red Lobster have in Florida?

According to the restaurant's website, there are nearly 50 Red Lobster locations in the Sunshine State – 47 to be exact. There are nearly a dozen restaurants in the Central Florida-Orlando area.

Here is a list of Red Lobster's restaurant locations:

  • Altamonte Springs
  • Bradenton
  • Clearwater
  • Coral Springs
  • Daytona Beach Shores
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Fort Pierce
  • Gainesville
  • Hollywood
  • Jensen Beach
  • Lake City
  • Lake Worth
  • Leesburg
  • Merritt Island
  • North Miami
  • Orange Park
  • Panama City
  • Pensacola
  • Port Charlotte
  • Saint Petersburg
  • Sebring
  • Tallahassee
  • The Villages
  • Winter Haven
  • Boynton Beach
  • Brandon
  • Clermont
  • Daytona Beach
  • Doral
  • Fort Myers
  • Fort Malton Beach
  • Hialeah
  • Jacksonville
  • Kissimmee
  • Lakeland
  • Largo
  • Melbourne
  • Miami
  • Ocala
  • Orlando
  • Pembrokes Pines
  • Plantation
  • Sanford
  • Spring Hill
  • Tampa
  • West Palm Beach

Who owns Red Lobster?

In 1970, Red Lobster was sold to General Mills, marking that company's first venture into the restaurant industry, and allowed the brand to quickly expand across the United States.

In 1995, General Mills established a new company for its restaurant brands, Darden Restaurans, Inc. 

In 2014, Red Lobster is sold to Golden Gate Capitol.

In 2020, Thai Union Group, which had a small stake in Red Lobster already, bought the restaurant brand from Golden Gate Capital. 

In 2024, Thai Union Group revealed that it intended to exit its minority investment in Red Lobster. 

"The combination of Covid-19 pandemic, sustained industry headwinds, higher interest rates and rising material and labor costs have impacted Red Lobster, resulting in prolonged negative financial contributions to Thai Union and its shareholders," said Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union Group’s CEO, in a news release.

 "After detailed analysis, we have determined that Red Lobster’s ongoing financial requirements no longer align with our capital allocation priorities and therefore are pursuing an exit of our minority investment."

In March 2024, Red Lobster reportedly named Jonathan Tibus as its next CEO after Horace Dawson retired, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Dawson was named CEO in September 2023.

FOX 35 has reached out to Red Lobster for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.