Red Lobster Bankruptcy: Former Execs Expose “Miserable” Thai Company Takeover

Orlando, Florida – Former Red Lobster executives and senior leaders recently revealed a disheartening work environment following the takeover by a major Thai seafood company. The company, based in Orlando, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after abruptly closing nearly 100 locations last week, signaling a significant downfall.

Thai Union, a seafood company that acquired a 49% stake in Red Lobster four years ago, emerged as the company’s largest shareholder and began taking over day-to-day operations. However, former employees have come forward, attributing the company’s demise to Thai Union’s mismanagement and lack of understanding of the American restaurant industry.

According to reports, Thai Union attributed Red Lobster’s financial struggles to factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, increased interest rates, and rising labor costs. The takeover led to the installation of Thai Union’s own executives, resulting in the rapid dismissal or resignation of long-standing employees and a revolving door of CEOs in the past five years.

The toxic work environment at Red Lobster intensified under the leadership of Thai Union, especially during Australian interim CEO Paul Kenny’s tenure in 2022. Kenny, part of the investor group that purchased the majority stake in Red Lobster, allegedly implemented controversial decisions, including a $20 unlimited shrimp promotion, that ultimately contributed to the company’s downfall.

As a result of cost-cutting measures, the quality of service and overall dining experience at Red Lobster locations suffered. Operational changes, like leaving tails on shrimp in pasta dishes and reducing kitchen staff, negatively impacted customer satisfaction and revenue. The company’s 36,000 employees are owed $16.7 million in unpaid wages, further underscoring the challenges faced amid the bankruptcy filing.

Despite the financial turmoil and ongoing investigations into the role of Thai Union in Red Lobster’s decline, the company plans to continue operations at its remaining restaurants during the bankruptcy process. However, additional closures are on the horizon as the company navigates through this turbulent period.