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Old 07-29-2014, 03:39pm   #1
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Default Uplifting the sole: Red Lobster goes upscale with new plating and pricing

Do people consider RL an upscale, middle class dining establishment? They should see the one in my town...its anything but upscale.

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Red Lobster wants to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood, so it's getting rid of some of its promotional discounts and stacking the food higher on plates, as is the style at fancier restaurants.

The changes mark the latest attempt by the struggling seafood to stop a years-long sales decline as it embarks on a new era. On Monday, Darden Restaurants Inc. said it completed its sale of the chain to investment firm Golden Gate Capital, despite contentious protests from activist investors.



In his first interview as Red Lobster's new CEO, Kim Lopdrup outlined the missteps he thought his predecessors made and why he thinks Red Lobster can win back customers.

"At the end of the day, people are not going to go a Chipotle for their anniversary or their birthday," he said.

Sit-down chains like Red Lobster have been struggling since the economic downturn as people cut back on spending. Such chains are also losing business to places like Chipotle and Panera, where people feel they can get restaurant quality food without paying as much. And Darden's recent attempts to spark turnarounds at Red Lobster and Olive Garden haven't worked.

Amid intensifying pressure from investors, the company announced late last year it would hold onto Olive Garden but get rid of Red Lobster. The company, based in Orlando, Florida, noted Red Lobster's customers were increasingly from lower-income groups, compared with Olive Garden and its specialty chains such as Capital Grille. Investors Barington Capital and Starboard Value wanted the breakup structured differently, with the latter filing a lawsuit last week for records related to the sale.

In the meantime, Lopdrup said, many people still view Red Lobster as "fine-dining for the middle class." But changing perceptions about the quality of Red Lobster's food could be a challenge, given recent promotions like "30 shrimp for $11.99," or a lobster pot pie that had just a half-ounce of lobster meat.

Lopdrup, who served as president of Red Lobster from 2004 to 2011 before moving on to head other aspects of Darden's business, said he planned to end such steep discounting.

"You're not going to see any of these low-priced specials that we're not proud of," he said. Popular promotions like "Endless Shrimp" and "Crabfest" will stay, however.

About two weeks ago, Red Lobster also starting rolling out a new plating style for its fish dishes that will expand to other parts of the menu.

Previously, fish dishes were served on rectangular plates, with the fish, rice and vegetables spread out in separate corners. Now when customers order off the "Fresh Fish" menu, they get a round plate on which slabs of fish are piled over the rice, a vertical presentation commonly found at higher-end establishments.

"The food arranged in a way that's more like you'd see at a fine-dining restaurant," Lopdrup said. "The seafood is the star."

As for the food itself, that hasn't changed.

Lopdrup also said he planned to reverse the decision in late 2012 to expand non-seafood options to up to a quarter of the menu and bring the figure back down to around 10 to 15 percent by November.

He declined to provide details on other menu changes planned for coming months. But he said the chain will take a "barbell strategy," meaning it will continue to offer pricier items, including dishes that are more than $30, as well as affordable options more akin to the recently introduced lobster tacos.
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Old 07-29-2014, 03:42pm   #2
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Went to a Red Lobster a couple weeks ago, and the food was just terrible.
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Old 07-29-2014, 03:47pm   #3
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Red Lobster simply needs to return to what it used to be: A medium-priced restaurant that serves good food and lots of it. Although their current way of during things (read: terrible food) may have ruined RL forever.
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Old 07-29-2014, 03:48pm   #4
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The food certainly doesn't look like the food in their TV ads.
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Old 07-29-2014, 03:55pm   #5
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Went to a Red Lobster a couple weeks ago, and the food was just terrible.
Do they still have those delicious, crack filled, cheesy biscuits?
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:12pm   #6
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we eat out twice a year. my birthday and Mrs. DAB's birthday. that's it. Outback for me, TBD for her.

with a little patience and effort we can cook fine meals in our redone kitchen just fine, and can skip 20 min of driving each way and another 20 min of waiting for something to happen once there.

Salmon tonight.

i may not plate our food real fancy, but it's good eats.
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:20pm   #7
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I happen to live in the "worlds luckiest fishing village". Real seafood. Real fresh.

To us, Red Lobster is the McDonalds of seafood.
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:26pm   #8
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Originally Posted by DAB View Post
we eat out twice a year. my birthday and Mrs. DAB's birthday. that's it. Outback for me, TBD for her.

with a little patience and effort we can cook fine meals in our redone kitchen just fine, and can skip 20 min of driving each way and another 20 min of waiting for something to happen once there.

Salmon tonight.

i may not plate our food real fancy, but it's good eats.
I agree. I haven't been out to eat in almost a year. I went to Ruth's Chris's Steak House, paid over $100 for two of us. My wife's Filet Mignon was perfect she said, but my "trout" (tasted suspiciously like talapia) was not good, and neither were the enormous side dishes.

I'm a pretty good cook since a chef friend from Greece taught me, and I think what I cook at home is just as good as any restaurant's offerings at much less cost and and I know healthier.Although I will eat some shrimp that is for sale here that is direct from the Gulf Coast, my other seafood comes from Alaska: Halibut, scallops, and hughe Spot Shrimp that taste more like lobster.

My side dishes are usally simple, like steamed kale and other things from my garden. The rest of the year I eat from the farmer's market.
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:29pm   #9
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Originally Posted by LarsAtTheBeach View Post
I happen to live in the "worlds luckiest fishing village". Real seafood. Real fresh.

To us, Red Lobster is the McDonalds of seafood.


Anyone who actually thinks Red Lobster is a good representation of seafood needs their head/taste buds examined
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:29pm   #10
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The quality of the seafood sucks they have no cooks that can make seafood without it turning to rubber,the shrimp is 200ct which is miniscule but when you see one of their commercials you would think you were eating at a 5 star restaurant. I'd rather eat at Mc Donald's...
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:29pm   #11
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Originally Posted by LarsAtTheBeach View Post
I happen to live in the "worlds luckiest fishing village". Real seafood. Real fresh.

To us, Red Lobster is the McDonalds of seafood.
Seafood from this place will put your local stuff to shame:

Alaska Seafood - Crab, Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster, Halibut
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:30pm   #12
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Originally Posted by lspencer534 View Post
Seafood from this place will put your local stuff to shame:

Alaska Seafood - Crab, Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster, Halibut
I'm sure that's good. But no way better than fresh fish off the boats/docks

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Old 07-29-2014, 04:31pm   #13
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Originally Posted by lspencer534 View Post
Seafood from this place will put your local stuff to shame:

Alaska Seafood - Crab, Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster, Halibut
bullshit. you've pickled your taste buds counselor
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:36pm   #14
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Originally Posted by wicked_c6 View Post
Do they still have those delicious, crack filled, cheesy biscuits?
They were burned. My wife makes them much better.
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:41pm   #15
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The funny thing is ,is that they are always jammed packed around here...go figure



Yes the cheesy biscuits are good
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:43pm   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarsAtTheBeach View Post
I'm sure that's good. But no way better than fresh fish off the boats/docks

Seafood from Alaska from this company is actually better than "fresh", IMO. If you buy "fresh" seafood from a boat, yes, it's pretty fresh, although it could have been on ice all day. Buy it from a grocery, and it was caught 1-3 days ago, on ice the entire time. Alaska Seafood Harvest flash freezes the fish immediately after it's cleaned on the ship and as it's caught. Then it's shipped overnight to me in dry ice. I think that's better than "fresh".

Plus, the Gulf doesn't offer cold-water lobster or crab legs or scallops. And the cold waters of Alaska haven't been polluted like the Gulf has.
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:44pm   #17
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bullshit. you've pickled your taste buds counselor
Not bullshit. You have to try some.
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:44pm   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lspencer534 View Post
Seafood from this place will put your local stuff to shame:

Alaska Seafood - Crab, Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster, Halibut
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:48pm   #19
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Originally Posted by lspencer534 View Post
Seafood from Alaska from this company is actually better than "fresh", IMO. If you buy "fresh" seafood from a boat, yes, it's pretty fresh, although it could have been on ice all day. Buy it from a grocery, and it was caught 1-3 days ago, on ice the entire time. Alaska Seafood Harvest flash freezes the fish immediately after it's cleaned on the ship and as it's caught. Then it's shipped overnight to me in dry ice. I think that's better than "fresh".

Plus, the Gulf doesn't offer cold-water lobster or crab legs or scallops. And the cold waters of Alaska haven't been polluted like the Gulf has.
exxon Valdez ring a bell?
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:51pm   #20
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IMO. If you buy "fresh" seafood from a boat, yes, it's pretty fresh, although it could have been on ice all day. Buy it from a grocery, and it was caught 1-3 days ago, on ice the entire time. Alaska Seafood Harvest flash freezes the fish immediately after it's cleaned on the ship and as it's caught. Then it's shipped overnight to me in dry ice. I think that's better than "fresh".
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