Red Lobster Closes 120 Restaurants Thanks To Bidenomics

Written by Christopher Wallace.

Red Lobster, once a beacon of seafood dining across the United States, has initiated the closure of nearly 127 locations in 27 states, striking a chord of disbelief among communities and longtime patrons. The affected states include prominent ones like California, Florida, New York, Iowa, and Illinois, showcasing the widespread impact of these unexpected shutdowns.

On a rather gloomy Tuesday, the official Red Lobster website updated the status of the impacted locations to “closed,” as highlighted by Fox 59. In Danville, Illinois, the local impact was palpable, with Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. sharing his frustration on Facebook. He revealed, “I was just notified by one of our local Red Lobster managers that after 31 years of serving our community, without notice, their parent company laid off the entire crew and closed the restaurant effective immediately.” Despite achieving a high rank in customer service, the Danville location was not spared, underscoring the abrupt and indiscriminate nature of the closures.

The closures have not only shocked individuals but also raised broader concerns about employment and the economic vitality of the affected areas. These actions hint at deeper financial troubles within the company, which have escalated to a point where drastic measures like mass closures became the chosen solution.

The Auction and Financial Decline

As Red Lobster retreats from numerous markets, the parent company has organized an auction for more than 50 restaurant sites across the country, signaling a significant liquidation phase. TageX Brands, tasked with handling the restaurant equipment sales, described it as their “largest restaurant equipment auction ever.” Despite this grand statement, only 48 locations are listed in their catalog, suggesting some discrepancies or last-minute changes in the liquidation plan.

TageX’s announcement on their website was stark: “As of today, select Red Lobster locations are CLOSED. We are auctioning off 50+ locations across the country. These auctions are WINNER TAKES ALL – meaning, each winner will receive the ENTIRE contents of the Red Lobster location they bid on.” Set to conclude on May 16, 2024, this process marks a sad culmination of Red Lobster’s long-standing presence in the dining industry.

Earlier, Thai Union Group, the owner of Red Lobster, cited multiple factors for its decision to divest, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, persistent industry headwinds, and rising costs associated with materials, labor, and interest rates. This blend of challenges highlights the harsh realities facing many businesses today, particularly in sectors heavily dependent on physical customer interaction and complex supply chains.

Bankruptcy Rumors and Economic Pressures

Amidst financial instability, rumors that Red Lobster might file for bankruptcy have surfaced, with credible reports suggesting that a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition could be filed in Orlando before Memorial Day. Sources indicate that the company is grappling with substantial debt, exacerbating its operational challenges and leading to strategic reevaluations.

Leasing costs, diminished foot traffic during COVID-19 lockdowns, and promotional missteps have all been flagged as contributing factors to Red Lobster’s decline. Following these complications, Thai Union Group announced on a February earnings call that it would cease further investments in Red Lobster, a clear sign of diminishing confidence in the brand’s profitability and sustainability.

Our Take

The dramatic closures of Red Lobster outlets and the potential bankruptcy filing are reflective of broader economic struggles under the current administration. The scenario underscores the critical need for policies that better support businesses and foster economic resilience. As companies like Red Lobster falter under financial pressure, it becomes imperative to reassess economic strategies and ensure that businesses have the support they need to thrive. The forthcoming election offers a pivotal opportunity for voters to decide on leadership that can steer the economy towards growth and stability, ensuring that the plight of businesses like Red Lobster does not become a common narrative.

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