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    Friday, May 24, 2024

    Red Lobster, with 4 locations in Conn., weighs bankruptcy to cut debt

    After shuttering dozens of restaurants nationally on Monday, Red Lobster reportedly is weighing a bankruptcy filing to eliminate debt, months after a Thailand seafood giant announced its intent to sell its stake in the Florida-based restaurant chain.

    Red Lobster has four Connecticut locations in Bridgeport, Danbury, North Haven and Wethersfield, representing its only foothold in New England. All four locations listed regular hours as of Tuesday, with Red Lobster not responding immediately to a CT Insider query on the future status of the remaining Connecticut locations.

    At one time Red Lobster had other Connecticut locations, including East Hartford, Enfield, and Torrington, that have all closed over the years.

    On Monday in New York, 10 Red Lobster restaurants closed, including one in Scarsdale in Westchester County. A restaurant equipment liquidator called TAG-ex Brands is holding auctions through this Thursday at select locations nationally.

    Bill Darden opened the original Red Lobster restaurant in 1968 in Lakeland, Fla., at age 19. In 2010, the company overhauled its restaurants to emulate the historic look of Bar Harbor, Maine, and other "Down East" lobster communities.

    The holding company Darden Restaurants sold Red Lobster in 2014 to Golden Gate Capital, for $2.1 billion. Darden Restaurants chains with Connecticut locations today include The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and Yard House.

    In 2020, Thai Union Group acquired Red Lobster. Thai Union's businesses include tuna canner Chicken of the Sea.

    In January, Thai Union stated its intent to find a buyer for its shares, announcing a charge against earnings of $530 million as valued according to foreign currency exchange rates at the time. Thai Union's CEO blamed the continuing impact of the pandemic, higher labor costs and interest rates among other factors dragging down Red Lobster profitability.

    The New Haven area lost a local seafood institution earlier this year with the closure of Chowder Pot III. In 2005, Red Lobster closed a location in Torrington, impacting about 50 employees.

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