Friday, September 07, 2007

Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster - aka worst promotion of the year

If you haven't seen the TV ads, Red Lobster is again featuring all you can eat shrimp.

From Red Lobster:

It only happens once a year – Endless Shrimp with all the irresistible, freshly prepared shrimp you crave. Select from classics like Garlic Shrimp Scampi, Hand-Breaded Shrimp, Shrimp Linguini Alfredo or Crunchy Popcorn Shrimp. Or try our new Buffalo Shrimp. The choice is yours.

This is the single worst promotion ever created by Red Lobster. This means we triple the amount of work we have to do for a lot less money. Our clientèle does not improve with this promotion. Our better customers aren't all that interested in gorging themselves past the limits of normal humans. In fact, this promotion scares off some of our good customers for a while. What regular wants to wait for a table at Red Lobster when everybody in the joint has willingly joined into a shrimp eating contest? Those Nathan's Hot Dog eating contestants have nothing on some of my guests. I think Takeru Kobayashi would tap out at round 8 while my customers have yet to loosen their belts.

Endless shrimp means 20 stops at the table of 3 construction guys who are each trying to eat 120 shrimp. Endless shrimp means lower ticket prices, because who wants appetizers when you are going to try and rupture your spleen with your engorged stomach while eating limitless shrimp? Endless shrimp means slower table turns, because you just have to find room for another round of Scampi. Endless shrimp means cleaning shrimp tails from every nook and cranny of the restaurant (Sir, we do provide plates for you to put those on. Oh I see, you'd rather place them on the window sill, you can count them all there.). Endless shrimp means those families you frequently find camping out at Old Country Buffet waddle over to our stores. Endless shrimp means dealing with dirt bags who think endless means they can take home as many as they want. Endless shrimp means repeatedly answering the question "What's the mosstanybody's ate up in here?" (Often answered while customer is on 5th round of scampi with butter drooling down their chin and pooling onto their shirt. Judging by the state of said shirt, that appear to be a normal eating practice.) Endless shrimp means whole inbred families with poor hygene wearing sweatpants (look ma...they's stretchy!) visiting me every day. Endless shrimp means corporate Red Lobster makes their money, while the server gets screwed. For two months. Every shift.

Ask your server about it, they'd confess they would rather have their eyeballs plucked out and hot fryer grease poured in the openings than to serve you Endless Shrimp. And I almost laugh at new servers when they ask about this promotion. How do you put this kind of torment into words without crushing their naive spirits?

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Mega Munch said...

I forgot all about this! I'm going down there to put a HURTIN' on some scampi. Just seat me near the bathroom and I'll be happy!

(Don't worry, I'll tip an extra 5 percent.)

Fred said...

ah, red lobster. i simply hate chains like this, because i would love to go enjoy some endless shrimp, but my natural sympathies dictate i will feel bad if i send a server back to the kitchen for all the shrimp i want. my solution is for the restaurant to give out larger portions of the initial order and the first refill--why give the 'all you can eat' table 15 shrimp? that's a drop in the bucket of the shrimp-damage i can do.

The_Hangman said...

If you servers would give me a triple order like I asked to begin with I would not still have to be sitting for four (4) hours at the table waiting on my third or fourth order of shrimp. The tip would be much bigger if we did not have to wait all night at our table just to get a second order. And whats with only one refill on the soda and that took two (2) hours to get that. Out of spite you serve slow so out of spite we continue to camp out and eat more.

Carey said...

yeah, I think Hangman has a good point. You go into it with that attitude, and give all your servers that attitude, and it will show at the tables. Last time I went to the endless shrimp promotion two years ago, the waitress was happy to see us, and payed attention to our needs. We left a nice tip, as we usually do, but there are times at other places when we get treated poorly, and yes, the tip was meager.

The Brother Hammer said...

Brush up on your Ebonics. I love it when they ask for diet coke.

Richard RL322

The Professional People Pleaser said...

I love how someone assumed it's your call on how much shrimp is in the initial portion. Also, God forbid it takes a while to get a fresh batch - you have to cook the stuff right?!?!And to avoid food costs, you can't just throw in a bunch to cook and wait on people (THEN THEY'D BITCH THAT IT WASN'T FRESH...) [/laugh]

I avoid going to restaurants when promos are going on because I know what kind of wait to expect. And that tends to be when the trash emerges...

Fiona said...

How does RL make money out of that? Customers forgo appetizers and get endless refills of what goes for a good few dollars each portion when a la carte?

Where's the money-making?

e.weinmann said...

An extra 5% won't cut it! Remember, endless shrimp means: less total tables, smaller tickets, more work. To break even, you would have to tip at least 35% on a low alcohol ticket, and 25% if you order a bottle of wine or some beer.

RL makes money because it brings people in the store (theoretically allowing for repeat costumers after the promotion), the quality/price of product is rather low, so there is still a profit, and theoretically, with all the savings, they might be inclined to spend some money on liquid profit (booze!).

The ones NOT making money are the front of the house staff!!!

Good luck Lobster Boy!

Susan Harwood said...


I’m writing to people who list ‘The Hardy Boys’ in the ‘Favourite Books’ section of their blogger’s profile.

I have a blog called THE BRICKS IN THE CAVE and I’m posting a chapter a day there of an illustrated adventure story - which is also called THE BRICKS IN THE CAVE (!).

When I first wrote it, I reckoned boys aged 7 - 11 would form its greatest readership. None the less, I’m hoping other people will like it too!

It can be found at

It strikes me that it would be a good idea to ask those who like The Hardy Boys if it is the kind of thing they would have enjoyed when they were younger (and whether it appeals to them at whatever age they are now!).

If you do have time to take a look at it, I would be very interested to know what you think. I have already had some thoughtful comments from Famous Five fans and your opinions would be equally helpful when I approach a publisher. (And just as useful to know if this wouldn’t even be relevant!)

I can be contacted at

As well as through the blog itself.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Susan Harwood

p.s. Earlier chapters are easily accessible through the side bar.

Cricket said...

Re: Diet Coke. Some of us don't do so well with certain sugars. No matter what kind of high-fat foods I'm taking in (I try not to do that, either, but I can't claim that I never eat junk), I order diet sodas because any form of corn sugars cause me stomach problems. Some diabetics can eat a whole lot of shrimp but not drink that much fructose and glucose.

Eating that many shrimp is a separate issue. If you're the sort of person who needs to take in 4500 kcal/day, fine, but I don't think those are most of the customers who are negatively judged by the servers.

Nichole Hacha-Thomas said...

Once had a man who came in for a birthday dinner during AYCE Shrimp. I worked in the bar at the time and we had a much quicker pace of things. He voluntarily shared with me that he had not eaten a thing all day (how he survived???) in anticipation of this meal. He proceeded to eat over 600 shrimp. That's just stupid. I couldn't tell you if he was fleecing them off to his 8 year old kid next to him or not, but the man was a shrimp-consuming machine!
And...there is nothing a serve can do about RL's rule of 15 on first order, 10 on refills. Yes, on a busy night a server shoudl probably order a few refills on open tickets to assure that there are refills available when a customer wants them - but like someone else mentioned - what to do when noone wants them? Well, we'd just eat them ourselve. Then managers got wise and began writing up anyone they saw eating shrimp on the clock.

Michael said...

first of all hangman, in my godforsaken, pit of burning hell of a store we are only allowed to order one refill at a time. a rule set by management. this cuts down on the huge pieces of crap from ordering several refills and sticking the extra skrimps into their chi-drens pockets "so's they cans eats all week, na mean". so do us all a favor and stay home.

smile4ufrme said...

AYCE brings out some of the worst people..trash of all sizes and colors. The servers do NOT decide how fast our refills will come out.. nor the size of them.
Face it, some people do not know how to act in public, and this brings those folks out.
Even before I was a server I had the brains to know that just because something went wrong.. it doesn't always mean it was your server.
You could not even believe how many times we ring in shrimp refills and somebody else took it> But ahhh that is a real good reason to stiff your server... for something that was totally out of their hands......
GET REAL... the people who are going to stiff are going to stiff anyway... they are always looking for a reason..... go to a buffet is all I have to say...
And you can spot the stiffers as soon as you greet them.. they have that "no class" air about them.. no we don't treat them any different.
I hate All You Can Eat Shrimp.. I think it is a punishment..
And I thought Red Lobster was a high class place.. not like Denny's.. even Dennys has more brains than to do an all you can eat anything... I think this person who came up with all you can eat shrimp... needs to be canned like the one that came out with all you can eat snow crab.. rock

Andres said...

You RL waiters are so lucky! I work the graveyard shift at Denny's. I get stiffed several times a day. I even had one night that I worked for twelve hours and only made 15$ in tips. I'm dying to get a job at RL.

TheLobstahWoman said...

Ok... so Friday nights we close our doors at 11:00pm... 10:30pm a party of 4 strapping middle-aged men wearing flip flops, tattered stained shirts (one of which was having trouble keeping his shirt down over his beer gut) waddled through the door and lucky me i was a closer!
Sure enough 3 of said 4 ordered the All You Can Eat shrimp and the 4th ordered a Live Main Lobster.
I'm not kidding when i say management let these people sit and gorge on shrimp until 12:30 at night!!!! WTF?! Isn't there some cut off stipulated somewhere that says "No shrimp refills 30 minutes after close" !!!!! OF COURSE NOT. Our management staff is a bunch of spineless pussies.

After 2 hours of good service even AFTER we were closed and i would have loved to go home, and after cracking that drooling numb nuts' lobster open for him, and after dealing with the whines and complains and protests of the kitchen staff for continually putting in refills long after we were closed, and after never letting any of their glasses of diet coke or Raspberry Lemonade AKA Pink Sugar Gunk go dry--- DID I MENTION FOR 2 HOURS.... I got a big fat stiff.

I cried.

I actually cried.

Down with endless shrimp!!!

And Cricket... why diet coke? Why not just order some damn water or Orange juice or Cranberry juice... or.... WATER? *sigh*

A said...

To the idiots that are talking about how the server should give all they want from the beginning, shut your mouth, you're and idiot and should not have the privilege of living in this country. The servers have no power over how much they give you. That is dictated by the corporation. I work for Red Lobster, and during last years promotion we had a woman eat 260 shrimp right before she collapsed on the table from mercury poisoning. She then got to spend three days in the hospital. Think about it before you spend your fifteen dollars showing just how stupid of a person you really are by making an ass of yourself in a public place.

tellinhowitis said...

You have a problem with serving food? Than go to college and get an education. It's people like you who complain and go no where in life except serving food at Red Lobster. It's red lobster not the Four Seasons, of course you're going to be dealing with ghetto trash.

I take home crap loads of endless schrimp during those days, and what are you going to do? The endless schrimp season in 2007 the waitress gave me dirt looks while I was piling it on a take home plate. So you know what that dirt look got her? For $50 bill I gave her a $2 tip. Ha, that'll teach you. Leave it alone and get another job or jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks =)

NESter said...

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I love to gorge on shrimp (and occasionally other things). Yes, overeating is bad. So is smoking. So is drinking more than a little alcohol. My vice hurts no one but myself. And my tip is totally based on service. If you refill my drink and my AYCE plate quickly (or at least tell me you're putting in a refill since as noted you can't just replicate cooked food like on Star Trek) then you will get a decent tip. I am not a high tab eater. I like to eat out. If I order a huge tab every time I eat out I won't be able to pay my bills. I look forward to Endless Shrimp every year. I hope my server doesn't think I am a jerk just because I like to eat. And yes, if the refills come slow I will be at your table longer. Complain about the kitchen, not the customer. I try to eat at off hours when it's not busy anyway, so getting a $5 tip from me beats having an empty table, doesn't it? If I found out one of the servers on here who insults customers worked at my local RL I would request another.

Anyway, a funny story comes to mind... a couple years back I ordered the AYCE and my scampi had a hair in it. The GM comped my meal and let me keep eating. I tipped off the original tab since that was the amount of work the server did, but I did come back again that season to torture the staff with my 60-shrimp-eating business.

On another note, to the one who insulted the servers, you really need to just eat at home then. In fact, let someone else shop for you too since you're better than the person at the checkout counter too. I married a waitress. She doesn't work now that I have a real job and she stays home with the kids. But if we needed her to work again, she'd serve again. I have a lot of respect for those who enable my vice; if I were a server I'd surely pour hot coffee over jerks like the last poster and get fired. THANK YOU for letting my fat ass sit in a booth and eat and drink to my heart's content. And if one of those jerks is sitting at your other table, just tell me and I'll gladly set him straight.

Dr. Eric Flescher ( said...


I have to admit I have gone to AYCE shrimp once. It was good. I ordered quite a few rounds and was surprised how I disliked the coconut shrimp ( I need a chutney with it or orange marmalade or something).

So when I saw the advertizing on TV, I wanted to find out how much it cost again and comments. Well luckily I found this site/ forum/ blog.

Very interesting all these comments. Almost all very true especially about the tipping. Do people from the other buffets that have shrimp skip and go to RL for this instead as someone suggested.

Well when I want a shrimp fix and more for half the price I go to a my local Chinese mongolian grill restaurant. There I get different types of shrimp ( raw, fried, etc) and I get as much as I want when i want it . Yeah there is no scampi and some of the other kinds but you have to figure out the poison you want in your system.

I don't just gorge on shrimp but I got quite a few.I am not used to just eating shrimp so a buffet is better for me.

The buffet has so much more. I did watch some huge people wolfing down stuff. I can really pack it in but I am not huge by any means.

I do feel sorry for the waiter/esses who have to wait on customers endlessly over hours for minimal tip that hog seats.

I don't know if I ever go back to AYCE shrimp (my wife does not eat shellfish) especially after reading you all comments.

Thanks for the comments. I will write about this in my food blog .comments welcome

Simply Annoyed said...

All i have to say is Servers hadle your food, drink, and credit cards- I have seen many gruesome things and i definitely wouldn't be negative or snotty with anyone handling my food...And another thing...People make your bad kids Behave with some manners..To the guy with the education comment..your such an idiot..most servers are in school and getting an education using this money to buy books and pay for school... And one refill at a time is not the servers rule..we serve the food we do not make it, so you greedy people calm down if you want fast food and three refills at a time go to Mcdonalds or a buffet.

Simply Annoyed said...

and to tellihotis you probably got those refills spit in..ha so take that and load some more.

Michael said...

Why do you expect people to come into RL dressed up like it's a nice restaurant anyway? It's the McDonald's of seafood.

Joe consumer said...

NO kidding.
You people act like Red Lobster is some kind of golden grail only suited to those on the higher income scale. Are you serious?
The best part is that you just KNOW these low class ass holes doing all the complaining who wait tables there live in ratty ass apartments and drive a Hundai their damn selves. Then they have the nerve to try and make fun of "lower class customers" who pay for their shitty apartment and their shitty car and their shitty little lives.
Get a new job if you cant perform the job you are paid to perform.

Now if you will excuse me.. I am off to Red Lobster to overly gorge my self on shrimp and leave a shit tip !! then I will drive off in my Mercedes on my way home to my 3.5 million dollar estate home.

Jeffrey said...

Haha, I love to hear you people whine about 2 months of all you can eat shrimp nights. Try working at a very busy Quaker Steak & Lube on an AYCE wing night, you wanna talk about hell... I've witnessed a man who had to have 2 steel chairs to support him eat half of a case of wings by himself, and then go for dessert. Oh yea, and serving isnt anything compared to actually running the buffet or cooking for it...

Anonymous said...

Ok,first of all, to all the servers out there, QUIT WHINING!! It is your job to serve the customers. Your tip depends on your performance. If your gonna give attitude and shitty performance you can expect a shitty tip. I used to be a waitress at a very small Italian restuarant of just 14 tables. I handled 7 and another waitress/waiter handled the other 7. We had VERY busy nights, lines going out the door. No joke. We once had a party of 15 people come in 15 minutes before close, the owner decided that since they were there they would like other people in, my shift that ended at 10, didnt end until 1 in the morning. You get over it. When you work in a customer service job, your job is to please customers, and deal with it. I know you wanna get tables in and out as fast as you can to make more tips, but sometimes that just is not an option! Suck it up! And the whole purpose of all you can eat, if for people to eat as much as they want! What do you expect??

For all the customers that are complaining about the servers, just know that if something isnt coming out fast enough or something isnt right, its not always the waitress/waiters fault. Get off your high horse and have some damn patience!! Also, just because someone is a waiter or waitress, doesnt mean they are low lifes. Some people do it just because they like to, their spouse makes enough money to support them with nice vehicles and a nice home, but they want to be able to do something themselves rather then sit on their ass all day. People also waitress to go through college, there is nothing wrong with that. People waitress while in high school, nothing wrong with that. You might have a 3.5 million dollar home (i doubt it but u may) but that doesnt mean you or your life is any better then anyone elses. In fact im sure others are more happy in life then u can other be.

Bottom line, Its a promotion that everyone likes (including me, shrimp is the only seafood i eat) Servers, do your job, shut up and quit complaining, try harder and maybe you will get good tips. Customers, dont stiff waitresses or waiters because 1 thing went wrong, its not always there fault!

Anonymous said...

I am so sick and tired of hearing servers complain about their jobs. Get a new job if you're that unhappy. You make our dining experience horrible when we have to sit around for 30-45 minutes just to get some coconut shrimp. Get over yourself!

Ryan said...

Go in the middle of the day and sit at the bar if your going to gorge yourself. There are very few people there and the service is faster. If your going to be a person who asks for above average service be preparred to give above average tips. Lastly understand that it sux working with the public because people are generally a$$holes when it comes to spending money. So be kind to your waiter and you will get as many shrimp as your stomach can handle, and it will be done with a smile.

Swgfanforlife said...

Honestly it really isn't my fault that you choose to work in a profession that only pays you 2 bucks an hour or something. This is America the land of the free. You have the right to quit your job or go to school and learn another trade.
I tip what I think is fair and not what some server thinks is fair. There is a reason why there is no law on tipping your server. It's strictly up to the customer. I have had a waitress downright throw a hissy fit because me and my partner didn't leave her a 20% tip. She even told me that 20% was the low end these days and most servers expect 25-30% as a norm. I laughed in her face and told her that she should be happy with the 3 bucks I left her. I mean she refilled our drinks once and brought us a basket of bread. That was it.
This economy is bad for everyone even us wealthy folks. My business made a 240 thousand dollar profit 2years ago but now that half my town is laid off I saw my business drop by 50%!!!!!! I got lots of employees to pay and I had to borrow against my business just to make payroll for 6 more months in hopes things turn around.

Truth is I'm gonna have to lay off people myself and downsize this year if things dont get better. So hell yeah I still got a fancy house and I drive a fancy car and make my usual appearances at restaurants but that doesn't mean my bank account is the same. I got lots of friends in my upper income bracket that maintain appearances but most of them are hurting and praying it gets better.

Some of you young people dont understand just how bad it is right now because you only make 2 bucks an hour and you don't employ 150 people and pay hundreds of thousands in taxes.
They closed the paper plant in my city last year that employed 1100 workers and just 3 weeks ago the proctor and gamble plant laid off 400 employees that were working the night shift. Now rubbermaid that was scheduled to build a huge plant here and employ over a thousand local people said that due to the economic downturn they are putting off building their plant for at least 2 years.

Couple all that with the president having to lobby to extend unemployment benefits for the 3rd time this year and you can tell the economy is NOT getting better.

So ladies and gents when Endless Scrimps rolls around at the end of next month don't expect people to walk in and be ready to fork out a 20% tip. If you want more of a paycheck maybe go to mcdonalds where they have to pay you at least the 7 dollar min wage.

Sorry I was crass but the truth hurts :(

Ill said...

@ Swgfanforlife.

I totally agree. I'm not some cheapskate who refuses to tip, but nonetheless I don't fell any sympathy for complaining wait staff. Pretty much anyone I know that is a waiter makes a pretty good hourly wage compared to other non-skill jobs. Yeah I know "you work real hard". Please tell that to the guy digging trenches in the hot sun from 5am til 5pm (for the same pay or less than you make to deliver food in air conditioning for 6 hours). And yeah, I said non-skill. Anyone who wants to put forth the effort of being nice and courteous to people can do your don't have a real valuable skill to offer here. My point is that I have no sympathy for complainers. There's a million different careers out there, if you don't like your job, or the pay is not enough, then get a different job.

MiHi said...

I find this blog article not only snotty and demeaning to ordinary people who the author seems to think is too beneath him, but now it's also hilariously ironic. Because within a few weeks after the Sept. 7th 2007 date he posted this snotty missive, the world economy crashed.

And by now, I'm sure that this prissy little punk is BEGGING to have those same "Old Country Buffet" and construction worker types he was belittling a few years ago come back to Red Lobster.

Assuming by now that the Red Lobster he works at isn't shuttered and/or punk waiter hasn't been laid off and is probably now working at McDonald's, if employed at all.

Oh, karma. How you always seem to get things done.

Lobster Boy said...

MiHi - why you gotta be a hater? I don't come make fun of you at the unemployment office line do I?

But seriously though, through the economical downturn I've done quite well for myself. My side business flourished, my investments grew with some shorts I played, and my tips at Red Lobster were only minimally impacted. See, I'm good at what I do, and I have a lot of regulars, I live in an area with only a limited hit from the economy, and a whole lot of other things that I have going in my favor that more than balance idiots who bit off more than they can chew on some houses.

I'm OK with the fact that this post hit close to home with you. You're probably the exact assclowns I'm talking about.

Lobster Boy

Anonymous said...

Hmmm,Mr Lobster boy if I may...I think you and the other posters have a great point..My lady works at Cracker Barrel and yes she hasn't had to deal with the "Buffet" clientele. But when an economy is down, and ppl may be looking for a deal for dinner, please understand no matter which type of customers you will have in this short AYCE promo, it is a job you choose.
I have two jobs so my lady doesn't have to totally rely on tips for a great income, but as one stated previously ppl do a lot of other very hard jobs for about the same as your sever job. And you are in a inside environment, out of the rain, heat, etc. Be grateful. Oh and I'm a tall slightly overweight person who is looking to do AYCE today, but I will tip, and I hope you may be my server and I may someone who you could ridicule in the back, but remember YOU chose this line of work.. thank you!

Brianne B said...

Stop bitching. You have a job,if you didn't like it it,QUIT! and find another one. Geez, I hope I don't get complaining, whiney,and bitchy waiters serving me ayce shrimp. Shut up, suck it up and serve with a smile. You get paid to do it!! I'm going to night with my hubby, and I hope a get a happy server! Not one of you's!

poorcollegestudent said...

To the people who diss the servers: SHUT UP! Stop pretending like you are better than us because most of us are in school! We are using the money we make from tips to pay for tuition and books! Some of us have to pay rent and car payments too! I'm in college now and applying to med schools but I need my job at RL to live thank you very much!

I don't mind if you want to sit at a table for hours eating mountains of shrimp but SERIOUSLY if your bill is gonna be smaller and you know that your server is working hard, TIP WELL! With a smaller bill, you should have more money for tipping.

Also, kind of off topic, if you are going to pay with a gift card, that does NOT mean that you don't have to tip! If your bill is $49.65, do not hand me a $50 gift card and say "keep the change". That's so goddamn rude I can't even explain.