Red Lobster is a beacon of seafood yumminess. You see that Red Lobster logo and know you're down for some yummy shrimp, scampi, and of course those delicious cheddar biscuits! But have you ever wonder if the shrimp is really ALL-you-can-eat or if the fish is fresh? These workers are here to spill the inside details and tell what you really want from Red Lobster.
How Fresh Is That Fish?
“For the sake of delivery, most of our seafood comes frozen. This is almost unavoidable as it must travel from Sea to our store. That being said, it is all frozen at sea at the time of catch. So it isn’t sitting on a boat deck for 2 days before being frozen. So in most terms, it’s fresh. Instantly frozen.
But Red Lobster has some of the highest standards in the seafood industry. Fisherman’s highest quality of fish is sometimes referred to as ‘Red Lobster special’ just because Red Lobster only takes the best items from the supplier. If a boat is out at sea for 7 days, they will layer ice between their catches for the day, so day 7 would be on the top and be freshest. This is the only layer of fish we accept from suppliers”
The Biscuit Man Can
“We have a guy whose sole duty is to mix the mix with water, roll the mixture into little balls, put them on a tray in an oven, take them out, and brush them with garlic butter.
A new batch of biscuits is brought out at max every 15-20 minutes. On weekends we put out 4 trays every 10 minutes and more than that if we get a lot of tables or a large party since they want more. Our bread is extremely fresh. All the time
Real cheese is our biscuits secret. We get bags that are almost like cake mix and put it into a mixer. Add water and 2 handfuls of real shredded cheddar cheese. After its baked, we brush on a garlic butter seasoning sauce and the bread absorbs it. We also use super cold water for the mix. We have one tea container filled with ice water just for this”
Is Morbid Obesity On The Menu? Yes!
“I learned from a ‘Worst Drinks in America’ submission that you should never have a classic Lobsterita on the rocks. It is the equivalent of 7 almond joy bars or something ridiculous like that.
There is also the ‘Create Your Own Combination’ menu item. If your creation is Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, Shrimp Linguine Alfredo, and Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp served with french fries, caesar salad, and a cheddar bay biscuit you’ve created heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s a terrifying 2,710 calories with 6,530 milligrams of sodium. Add that Lobertita and now you’re at 3,600 calories in one meal (almost two days worth of food…)”
It’s Mostly Clean, Except For…
“I would have to say the dish pit is the most unsanitary thing in the kitchen. Food standards are pretty high, but dishes is a mess. We don’t let any food get plated on unsanitary dishes, but half of what dish pit tries to pass off as clean is disgusting. Before I roll silverware at the end of the night, I have it run it through dish two or three times because there’s still food stuck on the supposedly clean silverware”
But Seriously, How Do I Get More Biscuits?
“Official take home biscuit policy is you can pay four dollars for half a dozen biscuits. Biscuits are free on Red Lobster grounds, but to take home it costs.
You can take home what’s on your table but if you ask for more, then you have to pay. Most servers don’t mind if they aren’t busy though. Its worth a shot if your server seems nice”
ALL You Can Eat?
“During the Endless Shrimp Special, I’ve heard stories of people getting 15-16 refills (roughly 150-170 shrimp depending on what kind you get) and guys I used to work with would literally eat competitively and get over 200+ shrimp. So for it really being ‘Endless’, if you come in at open and eat til close, then yes it is. However, that’s truly disgusting and you better have a freaking good tip in tow. Because one server will not take care of you all day. The shift ends and new staff is on the floor at night.
But believe it or not, most people who order Endless Shrimp don’t eat near enough shrimp to get a good deal. For example, I had many people order two shrimp choices from endless and order no refills. They were paying about $7 extra for literally the same amount of food and same exact food as another dish. I would always try to save my tables money, but asking someone how many shrimp they plan to eat is a little awkward at the beginning of a meal.
I would say the majority of people who came in would get the original choices and then 2 or 3 refills. Also, it was rare that I would have an entire table of people order endless. Usually, most of the other people at the table would order something off the regular menu. Overall, It’s a good way to get people through the door. Though you always do have the people who leave their house once a year for Endless and will eat the place shrimpless. I’d say that the people who don’t order many refills outweighing (not literally) the people who eat the ocean make Endless profitable.”
Tell Me Your Scampi Secrets
“In our scampi, we use that aforementioned garlic butter used on the biscuits, but with white wine. We also broil it in those shallow dishes they are served in.
Crab legs are steamed.
Up until last year, most everything was breaded in the store ( the exception being clam strips, chicken strips). They ran a taste test on pre-breaded items from the factory and guests rated them using at-table surveys–no one could tell the difference–so they changed it permanently to save labor costs. Now, pretty much anything that isn’t beer battered is pre-breaded”
Is This Lobster Abuse?
“Honestly, I don’t feel bad for the lobsters….they can’t think, and they’re ugly buggers.
Boiling the lobster for any time at all will kill it, but sometimes the way the steam escapes the shell makes a ‘shriek’ sound which sounds like screaming. It’s just the shell though, they can’t actually scream. Also, we split and clean our lobsters, so they are split in 2, all innards taken out except for the meat, boiled, AND plated.
Red Lobster keeps lobsters in the tank for WEEKS at a time without feeding them, and none of them die. Sometimes, when we’re super bored, we place bets on lobster races…I’m sure the winner of the race has an immense feeling of pride.
I have heard of stupid cooks playing with them and getting pinched, or sometimes they get shipped to us and a band has come off a claw. It is not a fun thing to be untrained in lobster-wrangling and try to rubber band a little sea rat that can break your finger off.
But beware the little pinchers on their little legs, they are small, but if they pinch a spot like the back of your hand, it doesn’t feel awesome”
If I Ask For Too Much Shrimp Refills, Will You Spit In My Food?
“I can 100% say that this has never happened in our restaurant. For starters, Back of House has zero interaction with the Front of House. So they don’t necessarily know who it’s for. And to be honest, the kitchen is always so busy they don’t have time to mess around. Managers are very good at monitoring the kitchen to make sure all safety and health regulations are in order since it is their butt on the line”
Steak At A Seafood Place?
“I don’t have a dish that I necessarily don’t like. I highly recommend our New York Strip Steak Medium Rare. I tried it for the first time the other day and it was by far my favorite item (sides were Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, and Brussel Sprouts). It was very well seasoned, juicy, and tasty. A good cut of meat as well. Not overly chewy and well textured. 10/10
Pricey but good.
New York Strip Steak
Lobster Shrimp and Salmon
Wonton Shrimp (Discontinued. We only had it for the first 4 days of Endless Shrimp)
Spinach & Artichoke Lobster Dip
Don’t care for:
Admiral’s Feast (Never had but basically is a heart attack on the plate. All Fried everything.
Salmon New Orleans (Not much flavor when I had it)”
Now My Life Is Complete
“Here is the recipe we use for our biscuits
Biscuit mix- We use Bisquick if we run out of our own
Water- Just enough to make the mixture sticky, and moldable into one big ball
Fine shredded sharp cheddar cheese- As much or as little as you want. I made double-cheese batches when I was feelin’ sassy every now and then.
Use a small ice cream scoop and plop them on a greased pan/baking parchment (making quarter sized balls will make little Cheddar Bay crackers, mmm). Bake at 400F for 4-5 minutes, flip them around, 4-5 more minutes.
This is where it gets tricky. We use garlic seasoning package (lots of garlic powder, some salt, parsley, and probably small amounts of other things, I’m sure) mixed with what can only be described as a ‘liquid buttery sauce’ which I’m not even sure contains actual butter. Brush your biscuits with a similar concoction, or maybe a small trade can be arranged for a seasoning package of your own”
Is All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp Old?
“All-You-Can-Eat-Shrimp, at least at the restaurant I work, is as fresh as any shrimp we serve. We get 2 trucks in a week of fresh products (shrimp do come frozen so this could be true on the shrimp company’s end, but the dates on the packages are always current)–food rotation is a huuuuge priority in my restaurant.
Also, endless shrimp as far as service goes isn’t the worst. We’ve got the system down, we know how to cook lots and lots of shrimp and everyone helps bring it to the guests. The worst part about it is the tips. A table can eat a bunch of shrimp for two hours, and you’re running all their refills, but with 2 people at $15 plates, the bill is only $30, and good luck if they leave you $5″
The Best And Worst Promotions
“I wish Lobsterfest were all the time. I LOVE working Lobsterfest! Dishes are delicious, usually healthier, and people are willing to pay for the pricier lobster dishes.
From a server’s point of view, we love pricier dishes because GENERALLY the tip is better. But there are other factors that affect the tip: bad service in general, the personality of the server, the length of time sitting; I can’t say when people tip better because there are some people that don’t ever tip.
The most hated promotional (from a server’s POV) is the 4-Course Seafood feast. If you care to know why, I’ll explain, but just know that both Endless Shrimp and the 4-Course SUCK for servers.
This is because the 4-Course is $15. With that, you get a soup, salad, entree, and dessert. This meal, should it be priced individually, is roughly (and easily) $25. Here’s why:
Soup: Clam chowder and potato bacon soup are $3.99 and $4.50 respectively per cup
Salad: Roughly $3.00
Entree: I’d throw somewhere between $13-$18 depending on which one you choose
Dessert: About $3.50-$4.00
Add the average up: 4+3+15+4= $26
Not only is the company losing MASSIVE amounts of money, but servers are serving the table extra soup and dessert that doesn’t normally get served. If you have a table of 4 on a Friday night that all get the 4-Course, that’s not even $50. MOST tables of 4 are $75-80… so from a consumer/guest POV, this is a great deal. But when it comes to our end, the server’s end, we get the short stick. So a nice 10% tip (which, unfortunately, is still the norm in the town I work in) is $5!
Which brings me to service. During these promotions, if you are polite, patient and cooperative with what your server asks/needs of you (if they say, I’ll be back in a few minutes, they probably have something they need to do), everything will go smoothly. I understand waiting an excessive amount of time is annoying, but usually, if a server is back within a few minutes, things will work out perfectly on your end. I’d say 90% of the time, you have an experienced server (I can only speak for Red Lobster… other restaurants, no clue) who knows how to time and pace things pretty ideally for you. Sometimes the kitchen gets backed up and things get delayed, but in times like that, I know Red Lobster will sometimes offer something free ONLY IF the wait time is overly excessive (waiting 30+ minutes for an entree, waiting 15+ minutes for an appetizer, etc)”
They’ll Do That?!?
“You’d be surprised how often people ask us to shuck their lobster/crab and it isn’t a big deal at all. We do this daily so we know how to get all of the meat out and quickly. I’d say the only thing is to leave your server a good tip for going the extra mile (because doing this isn’t required) and be courteous if they’re busy or have many tables. Other than that, its a day to day occurrence and usually not an issue”
Red Lobster Of The Future
“Red Lobster is doing a complete overhaul of the structure of the kitchen. They are completely redoing hundreds of store kitchens and calling them Kitchens of the Future. They are going to change how the food is prepped, in what amounts, how the food is cooked, what responsibilities lie on who, adding stations for certain things (newly implemented sautée station) and will now have managers walking the line to ensure quality.
The idea behind this is to dramatically increase the quality of food being prepared and cooked, increasing the efficiency of the restaurant operations, and decreasing the time it takes to get food from the kitchen to table. Sit down restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Chillis etc.) are having a tough time competing with other restaurants (Chipotle, Burgerfi, fast food) for quick meals (like lunch breaks) simply because there isn’t enough time, and therefore causes a loss in business.
It’s definitely something to be excited about”
Has Anyone Ever Stolen A Lobster?
“Steal, no. Take out, yes. We had a group of young men probably in their early 20’s. Drank a lot at our bar and were just talking in our lobby where the tank is (not an issue). They started saying how they’d grab it themselves and this man stuck his hand in the tank and grabbed one and held it up in the air for a picture I’d assume”
For The Vegetarian In A Sea Lover’s Life
“This is all the vegetarian items I could put together with the menu in front of me:
Mozzarella Sticks (appetizer)
Wood Grilled Taco (Entree) *Comes with meat, just ask for none.
Caesar Salad (Entree)
Garden Salad (Side)
Garlic Alfredo Linguini (Entree)
All of our delicious desserts (Brownie Overboard, Warm Apple Crostada, Chocolate Wave, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Chip Lava Cake, Cheesecake)
And if you like frozen drinks, (Sunset Passion Colada, Bahama Mama, Pina Colada, Alotta Colada, Mudslide, Strawberry Daquiri, Berry Mango Daiquiri)”
“Please don’t use the sugars. Company policy says we need 8 in each of the holders and we have to count them all at the end of the night.
Just kidding, they’re there for you. Just don’t dump it on the table (This is way too often of an occurrence)”
The Canadians Get Free Healthcare And This Dish? No Fair!
‘They still have lobster nachos in Canada where I work! They’re addicting, way better than the shrimp nachos’
Why That Endless Crab Leg Promotion Went Bye Bye
“Endless Crab Legs was a huge disaster for Red Lobster. They actually only offered the promotion twice in their history. However, in 2003, the promotion resulted in parent company Darden Restaurants taking a $3 million charge to third quarter earnings, resulting in President Edna Morris’ departure from the company. The ill-timed promotion was launched amid high wholesale crab leg prices. The chain also underestimated how many times a guest would order more. Further complicating matters at the restaurant level was the amount of time a guest spent tableside in the restaurant cracking crab legs. This resulted in increased wait times in the lobby and overall diminished guest capacity per hour. Or conversely, people were only eating the easily accessible meat. They were throwing away pounds and pounds of crab meat.
That is why they later switched to featuring the ‘Endless Shrimp’ promotion annually”
Those Commercials Really Do Work
“Before the start of Endless Shrimp this year, Red Lobster had some sort of budget cut and cut the advertising expenses. We went 3 months with no advertisements. I can tell you surely that we felt the impact of that. We were extremely slow for that time and as soon as the commercials started rolling, so did we. It was strange to see that sort of thing happen. So I believe that any sort of advertising campaign is strong and very effective”
Things To Definitely Avoid
“Do not eat the pasta. They microwave the noodles in plastic bags and the sauce in plastic cups, melting the plastic in both and a guy like me has to pick the bits of plastic out with his fingers. Don’t pay twelve dollars for a plate of microwaved spaghetti fingered by high school dropouts.
You also should rethink ordering fries because other servers eat off of your plate of fries sometimes before they go out. Fries, clam strips, fried Bay Scallops, basically anything small that you wouldn’t notice”