New, Pricier Red Lobster Menu Under New Management, Fancier Quality Restaurant Envisioned

There is a new, pricier Red Lobster menu under the new management of Golden Gate Capital and CEO Kim Lopdrup. With a higher emphasis on quality as well as a more elegant presentation, the investment company is taking the first steps to turn their restaurant franchise to profitability.

Kim Lopdrup, the CEO of Red Lobster under Golden Gate, originally helmed the division within Darden from May 2004 till June of 2011. According to his Linkedin page, he was, "Responsible for leading the separation of Red Lobster from Darden and ensuring it will be successful as a stand-alone company. Golden Gate Capital agreed to acquire the business for $2.11 billion (9 times TTM EBITDA) and appointed me as CEO of the new company." The new, pricier Red Lobster menu is just one of the changes Lopdrup plans to make.

According to the Associated Press, Red Lobster wants to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood which means an end to certain promotional discounts as well as an aesthetic overhaul to plating. "At the end of the day, people are not going to go a Chipotle for their anniversary or their birthday," Lopdrup said.

Red Lobster Menu Fancy Plating
In a photo provided by Red Lobster, the old plating style of the Wood Grilled Tilapia is seen at the top with the more aesthetically pleasing arrangement below which is common at higher end restaurants.

The catch phrase "Sea food differently" is something the restaurant is taking quite literally, according to Madame Noire.

Rectangular plates were the common serving dish style for the fish dishes. The new plating style for the "Fresh Fish" menu is a round plate with the fish placed over the rice with a classy vertical presentation, rather than a separated presentation where the food must never touch. "The food is arranged in a way that's more like you'd see at a fine-dining restaurant," Lopdrup said. "The seafood is the star."

While the food itself has not changed under, one decision made in 2012 under Darden will be reversed by Lopdrup. 25 percent of the menu was given to non-seafood items which will be reduced to 10 - 15 percent by November.

The new Red Lobster menu will reflect a "barbell strategy", meaning pricier options will be available with some dishes reaching the $30 mark or higher while other more affordable options, such as the lobster tacos, will remain.

Red Lobster was the oldest brand under the Orlando, FL based Darden restaurant group which includes Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, and others. The Red Lobster division posted an 8.8 percent loss in same-store sales in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2014. Even with such a consistent loss in profit, the $2.1 billion sale of the Red Lobster franchise, inducing the physical stores themselves, has drawn ire and a lawsuit from Daren board members. According to Forbes, hedge fun Starboard was one of the most vocal detractors from the sale liking it to more of a "fire sale" than a well constructed deal.

Amidst all the the change to the now pricier Red Lobster menu, there is one thing fans of Red Lobster can breathe easy about. The Cheddar Bay Biscuits are not going anywhere.

Image Source | Shutterstock & Red Lobster