Sometimes we don't associate large restaurant chains as being "local" or "family owned." But Orlando-based Red Lobster and its parent company, Darden Restaurants, are both!
Company founder Bill Darden opened his first restaurant at the age of 19. It was a small lunch place that seated only 25 people, but its success would inspire him to create what today is the largest full-service restaurant company in the world.
Red Lobster opened in 1968 in Lakeland, Fla., and their biggest competition at the time was a good home-cooked meal -- eating out for dinner wasn't as popular then.
But as guests experienced their first taste of calamari, snow crab and popcorn shrimp, its popularity grew. Now there are more than 680 Red Lobster locations in the United States and the oldest Red Lobster still in operation, located in Tallahassee, just celebrated its 43-year anniversary. If you're in the area, stop by and check out their new Bar Harbor design and learn more about their history.
Of course, there are Red Lobster locations in every major city throughout the state of Florida. You can also take a peek inside their online kitchen, which has some great seafood tips, recipes, and chef videos!