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Red Lobster files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE/FILE PHOTO
                                A closed Red Lobster restaurant, whose entire contents are up for auction, is shown in San Diego, California, on May 15.
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REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE/FILE PHOTO

A closed Red Lobster restaurant, whose entire contents are up for auction, is shown in San Diego, California, on May 15.

Red Lobster has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and leaders plan to seek a buyer for the financially troubled seafood chain based in Orlando.

The bankruptcy, first reported by Bloomberg, came in U.S. District Court in Orlando and will allow the company to continue operating.

In a news release late Sunday, the company said the plan is to “simplify the business through a reduction in locations, and pursue a sale of substantially all of its assets.”

“This restructuring is the best path forward for Red Lobster,” said CEO Jonathan Tibus in the release. “It allows us to address several financial and operational challenges and emerge stronger and re-focused on our growth.

Tibus also said the company would be sold.

“The support we’ve received from our lenders and vendors will help ensure that we can complete the sale process quickly and efficiently while remaining focused on our employees and guests,” the CEO said.

The filing listed company assets of $1 billion to $10 billion and liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion.

Red Lobster, which began as a single restaurant started by Bill Darden in Lakeland, Florida, in 1968, shuttered as many as 80 locations last week. It has about 650 restaurants. An online auction of the entire contents of some restaurants was held last week.

Red Lobster has shown signs of financial weakness for years amid volatile seafood prices and rising labor costs. Thai Union, a Thailand-based seafood company, took control in 2020 but earlier this year disclosed it was shedding its share.

Two years after the first restaurant opened in 1970, Red Lobster joined food giant General Mills, which grew it into a national chain.

General Mills spun off Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants in 1995, owner of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other national chains. Darden sold Red Lobster to Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion in 2014, and the seafood chain moved its headquarters to downtown Orlando in 2015.

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