There’s a lot to love about Red Lobster, which helps explain why the chain, founded in the year 1968, now has some 670 locations spread across 44 states, according to data company ScrapeHero. One thing people love? Those Cheddar Bay Biscuits. And the endless shrimp.
But when you look at the nutrition information for the biscuits or learn that the Endless Shrimp deal is really not a good deal for most customers, your views of the restaurant may turn a bit salty. For an insider’s look at a few less savory Red Lobster secrets, we turned to the words of the people who know the chain better than anyone: Red Lobster employees.
Here are eight controversial secrets about Red Lobster. And next, don’t miss the 8 Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.
“Believe it or not,” said one former Red Lobster employee dishing on Reddit, “most people who order Endless Shrimp don’t eat near enough shrimp to get a good deal.” The Reddit user shared that they would usually encourage customers to just order a regular shrimp entrée to save their money.
Ensuring close control and monitoring of every step of food sourcing is difficult when you have only one or two overseas suppliers, but in the case of Red Lobster, they source seafood from more than 30 countries, according to an employee who shared on Reddit.
That said, the parent company, Darden, does claim to be committed to sustainable resources, though these claims have been challenged—most pointedly in a June 2021 lawsuit that claimed that Red Lobster’s seafood “may be sourced from suppliers that use environmentally harmful and inhumane practices.”
According to a post on Reddit, if you haven’t been to a Red Lobster in a while you could be in for some sticker shock. A manager noticed prices across all menu items increased by 10% in August. Another worker noticed the same at their location.
If you order a live lobster from the tank, you are going to get the freshest lobster possible in that it is dispatched and cooked while you wait. If, on the other hand, you order a meal that includes lobster meat in it, such as lobster linguini, it’s unlikely that the meat is fresh. According to a Red Lobster worker sharing on Reddit, those types of dishes are made with frozen lobster meat.
In recent years, Red Lobster has been hit with a couple of lawsuits alleging discrimination based on gender. In one case, a female manager filed a suit complaining she was being paid less than her male counterparts. In another, a manager claimed she was terminated based on her ethnicity, according to Mashed.
According to a Red Lobster worker who shared information with OOLA, at some restaurants, the lobsters are kept alive in tanks for multiple weeks without being fed. Thus they are dying a slow, miserable death before being summarily executed and cooked for your dining pleasure. Other Reddit threads detail random acts of violence against the lobsters, though most do maintain a level of decency when ending the lobsters’ lives.