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Red Lobster parent company addresses closure rumors

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Red Lobster Restaurants, the iconic seafood chain with more than 700 restaurants worldwide, is the target of closure rumors that its parent company says are untrue, according to a Daily Journal article published on December 27, 2013.

Just a few days ago, rumors circulated that Red Lobster would be shuttering its doors for good, closing all of its restaurants. The rumor was met by shock and disbelief from the seafood chain’s millions of fans, most of whom could not imagine life without a weekly trek to their local Red Lobster for an evening of crab and coleslaw.

Today, officials at Red Lobster’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, have come forward to say that the rumors are just that. There are no plans to shut down Red Lobster and no plans for any immediate overhaul.

“Never have we said we would be closing restaurants,” said Rich Jeffers, director of media relations for Darden Restaurants.

Last week, Darden Restaurants did announce its intentions to sell the Red Lobster chain or spin it off into its own, independent business. This does not imply closing the doors for good, but that is how some interpreted the announcement, causing a flurry of activity on social media from concerned guests who feared the shrimp scampi they enjoyed for lunch last week at Red Lobster may have been their last.

Darden Restaurants also owns Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse and has restructured its plans to expand these two restaurant chains, scaling back its previous intentions. Management feels that Red Lobster has evolved to the point that it no longer fits within Darden’s vision and long term business plan.

"As consumer demand dynamics have changed, Red Lobster's priorities and operating support requirements have come to differ meaningfully from those of Darden's other brands, which are having greater success increasing appeal among consumers outside their core guest profiles," the company said in a press release from December 19, 2013. "As a separate company, Red Lobster will have greater freedom to pursue marketing and operating strategies that are more tailored to the needs of those consumers who fit its core guest profile."

No buyer has come forward to purchase the Red Lobster chain yet, but Darden expects to sell the chain or spin it off in early 2014.

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