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8 Controversial Red Lobster Secrets, According to Employees

Just when you thought you knew everything about the seafood chain, employees are dishing out little-known details.

There's a lot to love about Red Lobster, which helps explain why the chain, founded in the year 1968, now has some 670 locations spread across 44 states, according to data company ScrapeHero. One thing people love? Those Cheddar Bay Biscuits. And the endless shrimp.

But when you look at the nutrition information for the biscuits or learn that the Endless Shrimp deal is really not a good deal for most customers, your views of the restaurant may turn a bit salty. For an insider's look at a few less savory Red Lobster secrets, we turned to the words of the people who know the chain better than anyone: Red Lobster employees.

Here are eight controversial secrets about Red Lobster. And next, don't miss the 8 Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.

1

The Endless Shrimp promotion is rarely worth the cost.

Seaside shrimp trip
Courtesy of Red Lobster

"Believe it or not," said one former Red Lobster employee dishing on Reddit, "most people who order Endless Shrimp don't eat near enough shrimp to get a good deal." The Reddit user shared that they would usually encourage customers to just order a regular shrimp entrée to save their money.

2

Red Lobster sources its seafood from more than 30 countries.

Red lobster restaurant
Shutterstock

Ensuring close control and monitoring of every step of food sourcing is difficult when you have only one or two overseas suppliers, but in the case of Red Lobster, they source seafood from more than 30 countries, according to an employee who shared on Reddit.

That said, the parent company, Darden, does claim to be committed to sustainable resources, though these claims have been challenged—most pointedly in a June 2021 lawsuit that claimed that Red Lobster's seafood "may be sourced from suppliers that use environmentally harmful and inhumane practices."

3

At some locations, employees are compelled to come to work when sick.

red lobster employees
Red Lobster / Facebook

According to reporting from Popular Information, Red Lobster offers very few workers paid sick leave, and employees who are ill are pressured to come in anyway, under threat of termination after a small number of absences. This unseemly information came out largely due to spikes in sickness caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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4

The lobster is not always fresh.

Live maine lobster
Courtesy of Red Lobster

If you order a live lobster from the tank, you are going to get the freshest lobster possible in that it is killed and cooked while you wait. If, on the other hand, you order a meal that includes lobster meat in it, such as lobster linguini, it's unlikely that the meat is fresh. According to a Red Lobster worker sharing on Reddit, those types of dishes are made with frozen lobster meat.

5

The chain has had issues with discrimination.

Shutterstock

In recent years, Red Lobster has been hit with a couple of lawsuits alleging discrimination based on gender. In one case, a female manager filed a suit complaining she was being paid less than her male counterparts. In another, a manager claimed she was terminated based on her ethnicity, according to Mashed.

6

The silverware is often improperly cleaned.

polish silverware
Shutterstock

A Red Lobster employee sharing with OOLA reported that while food standards at the chain tend to be high, the silverware and dishes are often "a mess" and "disgusting" even after they have been cleaned. The server added: "Before I roll silverware at the end of the night, I have it run through dish two or three times because there's still food stuck on the supposedly clean silverware."

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7

The staff sometimes play with the lobsters when shifts are slow.

wild caught snow crab legs red lobster
Courtesy of Red Lobster

According to a former server sharing in a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") session, cooks and other workers would sometimes play with the captive lobsters during slow periods. Mind you, "play with" essentially equates to torment–and the server also relayed that this type of behavior occasionally resulted in people getting pinched.

8

The lobsters in the restaurant may be starving to death.

red lobster sign
Shutterstock

According to a Red Lobster worker who shared information with OOLA, at some restaurants, the lobsters are kept alive in tanks for multiple weeks without being fed. Thus they are dying a slow, miserable death before being summarily executed and cooked for your dining pleasure. Of course, this si just the account of one alleged former employee, and we hope it's not the case at all Red Lobster locations.

For more about this restaurant chain, check out The Best and Worst Menu Items at Red Lobster.

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more