Sunday, May 26, 2024

Will Red Lobster in Winnipeg Close?

The first Red Lobster in Canada opened in 1983 and Winnipeg was quick to open after that. With sister restaurant The Olive Garden right beside it in front of Polo Park, it was a winning formula. Another Olive Garden is by Kildonan Place. I can't recall if Red Lobster had another location in Winnipeg. I do remember that a lot of Red Lobsters ended up going in former Ponderosa locations around Canada.

Red Lobster with their endless shrimp and lobster deals has brought the company to bankruptcy. And they have gone to court to bring the Canadian operations into bankruptcy too. It may not matter if the Canadian operations are profitable or not. It is very likely they will want to liquidate the restaurants here and send the money to creditors in the states. We have seen this happen for Sears, Bed, Bath and Beyond and other retailers.

Red Lobster was a huge success in Canada for nearly a decade but closed some stores in the 1990s when tastes changed somewhat, locations became less desirable and tougher economic times prevailed. Winnipeg had a fairly tough 1990s. However, the Red Lobster location paired with The Olive Garden was a top notch location across from Polo Park. It became a favourite of people coming into the city from all over Manitoba and Northwest Ontario,
The location of A&W, Red Lobster and The Olive Garden stand roughly on the space of The Paddock which was a restaurant with a long history from the horsetrack days until the 1970s of Polo Park Mall. While there were restaurants in the mall, the location right along busy Portage Avenue was tough to beat. Plus all the Bombers and Jets traffic drove right up St. James to their location.

Polo Park, the Arena, the Stadium, the Velodrome all contributed to an outstanding location for years and although only the mall remains, the restaurants across the street still do so well. If Red Lobster closes, it will have everything to do with mismanagements in the U.S. and how their endless shrimp and lobster campaigns ended up being too costly. Other factors hurt them as well but this is being attributed to their downfall.

In the next week, it indeed looks like Red Lobster in Canada goes bankrupt and store closures are inevitable? Does this mean the whole company in Canada closes? It could very well mean that. Many American and international companies shut down their Canadian operations rather than attempt to sell them. Case in point is Sears and Bed, Bath and Beyond where there was no attempt to sell the companies to other operators. They were shut down and money sent to the U.S.

Only a few companies ever seem to sell their operations so they can continue in Canada. Toy R Us and HMV were sold by their owners and continue in Canada under their old names or new ones. Is it possible Red Lobster is sold off and their stores retained in Canada? Or the Canadian division sold off and continuing to run? Yes? But it is just as likely we see the Canadian Red Lobster which number about 30 plus to be shut down almost immediately and liquidated for creditors.

I'm sure many Winnipeggers and those who visit from out of town will be shocked to see the closure. It does invite question of what would go in place of Red Lobster if it is closed. The competition will be stiff. Perhaps a restaurant that presently doesn't have a location in the province. However, it is just as likely a Joeys or Milestone's from Canada end up there. The closure hasn't happened yet. We should find out soon though. 

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