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Newsy Nuggets: Red Lobster woes, new Italian in Audubon, Wine Quest and a wine-drinking runner

Written By Scott Joseph On May 14, 2024

Red Lobster Exterior

Orlando based Red Lobster, once one of the largest purchasers of seafood in the world and a massive restaurant chain, is closing restaurants as it faces ongoing financial troubles. Make that “temporarily closing,” a term that is often used euphemistically by restaurants in trouble that refuse to face the inevitable. But sure, maybe the dozens of restaurants that closed recently may reopen, but probably not the ones that, according to some news sources, are auctioning off their kitchen equipment.

Included in the nearly 80 restaurants shuttered are locations in Altamonte Springs, Kissimmee, Sanford and on East and West Colonial Drive in Orlando. The closures – so far – are spread across 27 states.

Red Lobster was once the jewel of Darden Restaurants, started by Bill Darden from a prototype based on a restaurant called Gary’s Duck Inn that used to be on S. Orange Blossom Trail. Darden sold the chain off several years ago and Red Lobster moved its headquarters to downtown Orlando in 2015. Earlier this year, Red Lobster’s largest investor, Thai Union, announced it was backing away from the seafooder. The company has also burned through several CEOs recently, which is never a good sign.

What’s the source of all the trouble? Many are blaming an all-you-can-eat shrimp promotion. It wouldn’t be the first time such a promotion caused an upheaval.

In happier news, Grazie, the Italian restaurant taking over the former Bem Bom building in Audubon Park, has softly opened.

It’s time for Wine Quest, Quest Inc.’s annual fundraiser. Events on Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18. Tickets and details here.

And speaking of wine, raise a glass to Tom Gilbey, who last month ran the London Marathon and did a blind wine tasting at each mile. He correctly identified seven of the wines and got another 14 mostly right; four were completely wrong, though no word on where in the race the wrong ones came in. And yes, he finished the race – in under five hours.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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