Before there was Red Lobster, there was Bill Darden, a man passionate about making delicious, high-quality seafood available and affordable to everyone, including people who lived far from the coast. What was once a single, family-owned restaurant in Lakeland, Florida, now has over 700 locations.
the history of red lobster
Fresh Seafood for Everyone
Bill Darden opens the first Red Lobster in landlocked Lakeland, Florida.
Red Lobster catches the attention of General Mills. Backed by their resources, Red Lobster restaurants rapidly multiply from coast to coast.
Shrimp Becomes Snack-Worthy
Red Lobster debuts Popcorn Shrimp. People go crazy for it, and rightfully so.
For the Seafood Lover In You®
We launch our first of many iconic advertising campaigns, including Life on Land is DryTM, Go OverboardTM and Sea Food DifferentlyTM.
We open our first Canadian restaurant in Ontario.
Lobster Lovers, Rejoice
We have our first Lobsterfest — and a Valentine's Day tradition is born.
Behold Biscuit Mania
Cheesy garlic goodness comes together to create our legendary Cheddar Bay Biscuits®.
Red Lobster Charts a New Course
General Mills spins-off its restaurant division as Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Taking Care of Our Own
We establish an Employee Emergency Assistance Fund, now called RL Cares, to help fellow employees facing financial hardship.
Feeding the Hungry
We start donating unused food to local food banks and homeless shelters through a program we now call RL Shares. Since its launch, we’ve donated about 20 million meals.
Love at First Shrimp
Our Endless ShrimpTM event launches and it’s a huge success.
Bring on the Freshness
“Today’s Fresh Fish” menu makes its debut, bringing fresh, regional seafood to Red Lobsters everywhere.
Get Fired Up
We bring wood-fire grills into our kitchens and train Certified Grill Masters to let the natural flavors of our seafood take center stage.
A Maine Makeover
Our restaurants begin to transform inside and out to a new design and décor, inspired by the historic fishing village of Bar Harbor, Maine.
We Celebrate Our Independence
Golden Gate Capital acquires Red Lobster and we begin charting a new course as an independent company.
A Taste of Innovation
As part of our commitment to keeping our menu fresh and our guests happy, we introduce sustainable, wild-caught selections like Alaska Bairdi Crab and Sockeye salmon, as well as bigger and better shrimp options.
Becoming the World Leader in Seafood
Red Lobster continues expanding globally, delighting guests in 11 countries and counting.