Red Lobster starts test of quick-service lunch

March 18, 2013

Aberdeen News

H.G. Parsa is the Barron Hilton Professor of Lodging Management at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the Daniels College of Business.

Trying to lure time-starved customers, Red Lobster on Monday began testing “Seaside Express” at two Orlando-area restaurants where diners can order and pay for lunch at the counter.

At Red Lobsters in Sanford and on East Colonial Drive across from Orlando Fashion Square, customers can get in and out quickly because they order right away and don’t have to wait for a server to bring them a check after they’ve eaten. The traditional sit-down lunch is also still available.

Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, which owns Red Lobster, would not say whether it is testing anything similar at its other chains, which include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

But one industry expert was skeptical about Red Lobster’s move. Many people think of a seafood restaurant as a place for a leisurely dinner, not a quick bite to eat, said H.G. Parsa, a former University of Central Florida restaurant professor now on the faculty at University of Denver’s business school.

Red Lobster could “dilute the brand” by trying to be all things to all people, he said.