I know restaurants come and go all the time. However, I like to believe chain joints are slightly more bulletproof.

For these reasons, they have many locations across the US, including a menu and a customer base supporting every restaurant.

Rarely do I think about chain restaurants failing. However, I have seen in recent years in Rockford alone that Sonic has come and gone, and TGI Fridays, along with Granite City, have vanished from town, too.


So I shouldn't be so stunned if Red Lobster closes in Illinois or anywhere.

I learned a few things while looking into Red Lobster's financial struggles.


1. Darden no longer owns them. The same folks who own another restaurant chain, Olive Garden, sold their Red Lobster arm (claw?) in 2014 to Golden Gate Capital.

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2. A few years later, Golden Gate sold to Thai Union Group, and they have since had to face a few different challenges with Red Lobster:

  • The pandemic
  • consumers changing their eating preferences
  • competition from other seafood chains
  • high food and labor costs


So, where does this leave the 39 Red Lobster locations in Illinois? These locations in the Land of Lincoln appear safe for now, but Restaurant Business says they lost $22M in 2023 and are "looking to offload the brand."

Things are so dire that their $20 all-you-can-eat shrimp campaign lost them $11M. I'm not a restaurateur, but you might want to avoid doing that one in 2024.

Before you dismiss the possibility of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy and liquidating, Red Lobster has already closed restaurants silent to potentially stave off closing up shop for good.

An Eat This! Not That news story shared that they closed nine locations in 2022, five in 2021, and four in 2020.

This isn't the end of Red Lobster as we know it. I hope not because I love those Cheddar Bay Biscuits, but this could be the beginning.

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