Marketing

Red Lobster to give away free lobster at Times Square location

The struggling chain will serve all-you-can eat lobster on March 28 as it ramps up its promotional activity.
Red Lobster Times Square
Red Lobster will give free lobster to 150 customers. / Photograph: Shutterstock

Free all-you-can-eat lobster? In this economy? 

Absolutely, says Red Lobster, which will offer bottomless portions of its namesake menu item on March 28 at its Times Square location.

Customers can sign up for the chain’s first-ever Endless Lobster event starting March 21—but they’ll have to be fast. Reservations are limited to just 150 seats spread evenly across three seating windows: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.

Guests who are able to nab a table can eat as many 1¼-pound live Maine lobsters as they can handle, served with melted butter, steamed broccoli and their choice of a side, all for free. The dish normally costs $49.99 at that location, according to its website.

Customers will still have to pay for drinks and other menu items.

“We're thrilled to reward guests for their love of lobster with our first-ever Endless Lobster event,” said CMO Patty Trevino in a statement. “We know how much our guests love Endless Shrimp, so we figured why not offer Endless Lobster.”

The most recent installment of the bottomless shrimp deal, in September, cost $23.99. Endless Lobster, on the other hand, costs nothing.

The generous but limited promotion comes as the 670-unit chain struggles with falling traffic and rising costs. Thai Union Group, the Thailand-based seafood company that owns Red Lobster, said in February that it closed 16 locations in the fourth quarter. It was also reportedly working to renegotiate rents at some of its restaurants. 

But the company said it’s determined to turn the ailing business around. After raising menu prices, Thai Union is now reinvesting in marketing to get people back into the restaurants. 

“Attracting more people in the restaurant is, of course, a challenge when you have been increasing your prices and when the country is facing some recession,” Thai Union CFO Ludovic Regis Henri Garnier told analysts last month, according to a transcript from financial services site Sentieo. 

“We want to do much more [marketing] activities,” he said. “You know that Red Lobster’s model is to do a lot of promotion.”

Giving away free lobster in Times Square certainly fits the bill.  

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