The History of Red Lobster
Company founder Bill Darden opened his first restaurant, The Green Frog, at age 19. From the beginning, Bill’s restaurants focused on quality and service. With a passion for seafood, it was only a matter of time before Bill and his team opened the first Red Lobster in Lakeland, Fla., in 1968.
By the early 1970s, the company expanded throughout the Southeast, establishing Red Lobster as the leader among seafood and casual dining restaurants. "Our biggest competition back then was the kitchen stove," said Joe Lee, a key member of that early crew who later went on to become CEO and chairman, leading the company through much of its growth.
As it reached more parts of the country, Red Lobster continually introduced guests to fresh dishes that quickly became favorites, with many guests getting their first taste of calamari, snow crab and Key lime pie here – not to mention the fact that it is where popcorn shrimp was invented.
In 1995, after decades of success and growth, Red Lobster, together with Olive Garden and later Bahama Breeze, became part of Darden Restaurants, with Joe at the helm until 2005, when he turned the reins over to current CEO and Chairman Clarence Otis.
Over the years, our passion for seafood and delicious experiences has kept Red Lobster evolving. Our menu has grown and changed with our guests’ tastes and our ability to bring the best of the sea to your table. The atmosphere has evolved to keep up with the times and to provide our guests a comfortable place to dine, enjoy and celebrate. But even as Red Lobster continues to grow, we remain dedicated to the standards of excellence and excitement for the sea that inspired Bill Darden in the first place.
Today, there are more than 680 Red Lobster locations in the United States and Canada. Our reputation as seafood experts is known the world over. And we’re still as excited as ever to give you a great meal and feed your passion for seafood.