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BUSINESS

Brevard's two Red Lobsters targeted for possible closing as part of Bankruptcy Court process

Florida Today

has targeted its two Brevard County restaurants for possible closing as part of seafood chain's Bankruptcy Court proceedings.

Red Lobster list its restaurants at 2355 W. New Haven Ave. in Melbourne and at 215 E. Merritt Island Causeway on Merritt Island as among those it wants to, in effect, break its leases on if the company can't renegotiate the leases with more favorable terms.

According to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando, the leases of those and more than 120 other Red Lobsters nationwide "are a burden" on the company and its affiliates. The filing said the Red Lobster entities "do not anticipate needing" those restaurants "in order to operate their business going forward."

The Red Lobster restaurant on Merritt Island is one of two Brevard County Red Lobsters targeted for possible closing as part of the company's Bankruptcy Court proceedings.

Red Lobster said continuing to occupy the listed restaurants would incur "unnecessary administrative expenses, is burdensome, and that rejection of the rejected leases is, thus, in the best interests of the debtorsֱ estates and theircreditors."

Red Lobster said it worked with a real estate adviser to review and identify the leased restaurant sites "that are likely to continue to drive losses" for the company. It said the targeted sites are part of a plan to maximize value for the company.

Any such closings would have to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court.

Red Lobster said in its filing that such relief "is necessary and appropriate," because keeping the leases detailed in the filing in place "would constitute an unnecessary drain upon the financial resources" of Red Lobster.

Managers at the two Brevard County Red Lobsters declined to comment.

More on Red Lobster:Red Lobster filed for bankruptcy: What's the status of the 2 restaurants in Brevard?

May Bankruptcy Court filing

Red Lobster Management LLC, along with 14 operating subsidiaries, on May 19 voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. Seeking Chapter 11 protection frees a company from the threat of creditors' lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances.

In a statement, Red Lobster said it "intends to use the proceedings to drive operational improvements, simplify the business through a reduction in locations, and pursue a sale of substantially all of its assets as a going concern."ֱ

As part of the Bankruptcy Court filings, Red Lobster said it "has entered into a stalking-horse purchase agreement," under which Red Lobster would sell its business to an entity formed and controlled by its existing lenders.

CEO Jonathan Tibus said this restructuring "is the best path forward for Red Lobster. It allows us to address several financial and operational challenges and emerge stronger and refocused on our growth. The support weֱve 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.ֱ

Orlando-based Red Lobster operate about 570 casual seafood restaurants, primarily located across the United States and Canada, with nearly 36,000 employees. The company was founded in 1968, and is the worldֱs-largest seafood restaurant company.

List of targeted restaurants

A list compiled by CNN lists 24 other Red Lobsters in Florida that either closed or could be targeted for closing. They are:

  • 340 W. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs
  • 2475 Highway 27 South, Clermont
  • 26320 U.S. 19th North, Clearwater
  • 2000 University Drive, Coral Springs
  • 5950 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
  • 3801 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers
  • 326 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach
  • 5690 Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee
  • 6638 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth
  • 3706 North Road 98, Lakeland
  • 10010 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg
  • 11550 Southwest 88th St., Miami
  • 13300 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami
  • 32 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park
  • 617 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando
  • 9892 International Drive, Orlando
  • 8003 Golden Sky Lane, Orlando
  • 5110 N. 9th Ave., Pensacola
  • 8909 U.S. Highway 19, Port Richey
  • 2328 Commercial Way, Spring Hill
  • 6151 34th St. North, St. Petersburg
  • 11601 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa
  • 3830 Wedgewood Lane, The Villages
  • 2201 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach

The list also includes 100 other Red Lobsters in 29 states, including one in New York's Times Square.

Red Lobster was founded in 1968 in Lakeland by Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby.

General Mills acquired the company in 1970, and helped it expand, before establishing a new company for its restaurant brands called Darden Restaurants Inc. in 1995. Darden also owned the Italian restaurant chain, Olive Garden. Darden's restaurant brands now also include LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Cheddarֱs Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V's and Bahama Breeze.

Darden Restaurants sold Red Lobster to Golden Gate Capital in 2014. Thai Union, which previously had a one-fourth stake in the company, bought out Golden Gate's stake in the company in 2020.

Michelle Spitzer contributed to this story.

Dave Berman is business editor atֱFLORIDA TODAY.ֱContact Berman atֱdberman@floridatoday.com, on X atֱֱand on Facebook atֱ