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‘The spot to be’ Long-time Jacksonville Red Lobster workers and customers react to restaurant closings
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‘The spot to be’ Long-time Jacksonville Red Lobster workers and customers react to restaurant closings

  • PublishedMay 16, 2024

Loyal Red Lobster customers and longtime workers are shocked the seafood chain restaurant has closed its doors at three Jacksonville locations.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Red Lobster locations on Commerce Center Drive, Baymeadows Road and City Station have all closed their doors. 

The doors have locks on the outside and signs that read: “This location is closed. We look forward to serving you at another Red Lobster location in the future.”

These sudden closures have left workers and loyal customers in shock. 

“I got this Red Lobster gift card I was trying to get rid of so I was going to come down here to eat this meal,” said Dewitt Nelson, “I pull up and they’re all shut down.”

These three Red Lobster restaurants join the dozens of locations closing around the country. 

Closures that come as a surprise to a former employee, Melvin Jackson. 

“It’s really shocking and unfortunate that this is happening,” said Jackson.

Jackson worked at two of the locations for 10 years.

“I went there fresh out of high school, fresh out of graduation that was my next job. I learned a lot I met a lot of people,” he said.

He even met a very special person there. 

“Another fun thing about working there is I met my wife there,” said Jackson, “We’ve been married for six years this year will be seven.”

So with this popular seafood restaurant having such an impact on his life, this chapter of doors closing hits home. 

“The people I worked with were like family because I spent a lot of time there,” he said, “It’s kind of sad because it’s like Red Lobster was the spot to be, nobody ever seen this coming.”

According to reports, these closures come as the seafood chain considered filing for bankruptcy. 

Jacksonville University Economics Adjunct Professor and Downtown Investment Authority Director of Downtown Real Estate and Development Steve Kelley said early signs showed something was wrong. 

“There were a lot of reports out there for the past going on nine maybe even 12 months about the challenges Red Lobster has been facing in terms of their capitalization and profitability. So, it wasn’t entirely a surprise I know some of the bankruptcy talk has been circulating for months,” Kelley said.

“It’s a lot more than all you can eat shrimp and all you can eat lobster but those are symptoms of a restaurant that’s having problems and trying to generate whatever cash flow it can to cover its operating cost,” he said. 

The Orange Park Red Lobster is the only Jacksonville location open.

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