Cooked crab on blue plate, lemons, rose wine on table, sunlight imitation.
Red Lobster Will Never Have 'Endless Crab' Because Of A Disastrous Trial Run
By Nick Johnson
The American buffet first emerged in the 1940s, and since then, many restaurants followed suit, including the seafood chain Red Lobster. While luxury food items like crab at a buffet might sound amazing, Red Lobster once attempted an ‘endless crab’ promotion in 2003, which had disastrous results.
For only $22.99, Red Lobster patrons could enjoy as many plates of crab and sides as their hearts desired, and the generous offer drew a lot of customer attention. Unfortunately, Red Lobster was woefully underprepared for the indomitable appetite that develops when presented with an all-you-can-eat opportunity, and crabs disappeared faster than they could be replaced.
To cope with the rapidly accumulating losses, some Red Lobster locations raised the price of the deal by several dollars, but the promotion still devastated the company's bottom line. Its first-quarter earnings plummeted by millions, its stock dropped by nearly three dollars a share, and its president Edna Morris left the company, though the exact reason why remains unclear.
Shortly after the endless crab promotion flopped, restaurateur Frank Chivas explained in an interview that such an offering could only be profitable if the wholesale price for crab was $3.25 per pound. At the time of the promotion, a pound of crab cost around $5, and he observed that the average person can eat about two pounds of crab in a sitting.