Red Lobster suddenly closes nearly 50 restaurants


Red Lobster is getting a lot leaner, with at least 48 locations shutting down and their inventory suddenly on the auction block.

TAGeX Brands, a liquidator of restaurant equipment and supplies, has listed the sales on its website, with bidding already underway and expected to wrap up on Thursday. Locations across 21 states are impacted by the shutdowns.

Many of the locations are listed as “temporarily closed” on the Red Lobster website. The chain has about 650 locations total.

News of the sale comes as Red Lobster explores a possible bankruptcy filing. Jonathan Tibus was named CEO in March. He’s also managing partner at advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal, which is known for restructuring distressed businesses. The company has also looked for a buyer.

The speed at which this auction is taking place is especially unusual. It kicked off abruptly, with a short ramp period, and instead of auctioning off the equipment, seating, and other elements in pieces—aswith most restaurant auctions—potential buyers are bidding for the entire contents of the restaurants, including furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Potential buyers should be ready to move, though. The auctions end Thursday and pickup is only available on Friday during a six-hour window. “Doors close promptly at the end of designated time slot and items leftover will be forfeited without refund. Winning bidders are responsible for the appropriate removal and loading of their items. No one on site can assist with disconnect, removal, or loading items,” the auction site reads.

Last year, Red Lobster saw a big loss in its third quarter earnings after it expanded its Endless Shrimp promotion to an everyday event, rather than its traditional Mondays-only offering. Prices were higher, but so many people took advantage of the deal—and some to a gluttonous extreme—that earnings tumbled. The company’s fortunes have continued to struggle since then.

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