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Red Lobster files for bankruptcy, restaurants will stay open

Red Lobster has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida, the company confirmed in a statement late Sunday night.

The 56-year-old seafood chain — the largest of its kind in the U.S. — said it would “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.”

Red Lobster has agreed to sell its business to a new entity wholly owned and controlled by its lenders, a so-called stalking horse arrangement. The company said it had received a $100 million financing commitment from its lenders to fund ongoing operations.

The bankruptcy petition lists the business’s assets as worth between $1 billion and $10 billion.

The company had recently announced it was closing some 99 locations across the country.

But the company stressed that its remaining restaurants will remain open during the bankruptcy process and that it has been “working with vendors to ensure that operations are unaffected.”

Jonathan Tibus, the Company’s CEO, 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 re-focused on our growth.”

Founded in 1968, Red Lobster grew to nearly 700 locations by 2019. But it failed to regain its footing after the pandemic. Between 2019 and 2023, U.S. sales fell 13% on net. The privately held company has since struggled under its debt load, while also seeing payments to vendors disrupted.

That’s coincided with a stream of executive turnover announcements, and ill-fated strategic initiatives including an all-you-can-eat shrimp offering that resulted in heavy losses.

The company has also seen multiple owners over the past five years; most recently seafood conglomerate Thai Union had taken a controlling stake, but announced in January its intention to sell it.

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