THE STORYof RED LOBSTER®

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 and regardless of race, gender, religion or economic means. What was once a single, family-owned restaurant in Lakeland, Florida, now has over 700 locations around the world.


the history of red lobster

1968

Fresh Seafood for Everyone

Bill Darden opens the first Red Lobster in Lakeland, Florida.

1970

Business Booms

Red Lobster catches the attention of General Mills. Backed by their resources, Red Lobster restaurants rapidly multiply from coast to coast.

1974

Shrimp Becomes Snack-Worthy

Red Lobster debuts Popcorn Shrimp. People go crazy for it, and rightfully so.

1979

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.

1983

O Canada

We open our first Canadian restaurant in Ontario.

1984

Lobster Lovers, Rejoice

We have our first Lobsterfest — and a Valentine's Day tradition is born.

1992

Behold Biscuit Mania

Cheesy garlic goodness comes together to create our legendary Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

1995

Red Lobster Charts a New Course

General Mills spins-off its restaurant division as Darden Restaurants, Inc.

1999

Taking Care of Our Own

We establish an Employee Emergency Assistance Fund, now called RL Cares, to help fellow employees facing financial hardship.

2003

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.

2004

Love at First Shrimp

Our Endless ShrimpTM event launches and it’s a huge success.

2006

Bring on the Freshness

“Today’s Fresh Fish” menu makes its debut, bringing fresh, regional seafood to Red Lobsters everywhere.

2008

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.

2010

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.

2014

We Celebrate Our Independence

We begin charting a new course as an independent company.

2015

A Taste of Innovation

As part of our commitment to keeping our menu fresh and our guests happy, we introduce wild-caught selections like Sockeye salmon, as well as bigger and better shrimp options.

2017

REWARDING OUR LOYAL GUESTS

The My Red Lobster Rewards program is born, rewarding guests for doing what they already love to do – enjoy delicious seafood at Red Lobster.

2018

PARTNERING TO SET SEAFOOD STANDARDS

We unveil our Seafood with Standards commitments and engage in partnerships to help drive continuous improvement within our supply chain. We also become the first large casual dining restaurant company to make a commitment to eliminate plastic straws from our restaurants, promising to begin replacing plastic straws with an eco-friendly alternative straw by the end of 2020.

2019

WORKING TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE OUR OCEANS

Through a partnership with Ocean Conservancy®, a leading ocean conservation nonprofit, we have focused on two programs: The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, which focuses on driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, which unites leaders to mitigate plastic waste entering the oceans.

2021

CELEBRATING OUR EMPLOYEES AND OUR GUESTS

We are recognized on the Forbes list of America’s Best Large Employers 2021, and our My Red Lobster Rewards Program is named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Loyalty Programs 2021.

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