‘The Simpsons’ Called Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp Debacle, Naturally

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‘The Simpsons’ Called Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp Debacle, Naturally

Once again, life imitates The Simpsons. Red Lobster recently had to pull the plug on its “Ultimate Endless Shrimp” promotion after countless Homer Simpsons showed up to take advantage of the deal. The Frying Dutchman could have warned Red Lobster how this would all play out.

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This isn’t the first time the seafood restaurant chain has offered all-you-can-eat shrimp, but like the annual return of the McRib, it was always a “for a limited time only” window. In June, company higher-ups made the ill-advised decision to make endless shellfish for twenty bucks a permanent item on the menu. Heck, Red Lobster even threw in a side of their famous Cheddar Bay biscuits. 

Here’s the good news/bad news for Red Lobster. The good news: The company saw a 4 percent increase in Homer-sized customers in the third quarter. Woohoo! The bad news: Those voracious shrimp lovers contributed to an operating loss of more than $11 million during that same time span. D’oh!

Homer’s bottomless stomach nearly bankrupted the Frying Dutchman, and now Red Lobster has pulled the plug on its all-you-can-eat offering for the same reason. "We want to keep it on the menu,” says parent company CFO Ludovic Regis Henri Garnier, a name that rivals Simpsons restaurantier Captain Horatio McCallister. But Garnier acknowledges that Red Lobster had it priced all wrong — locations that are still offering the deal have bumped up the price by 25 percent to $25. 

Red Lobster’s debacle is especially idiotic because it made this exact same mistake in the past. In 2003, it ran a similar promotion, offering all-you-can-eat snow crab legs for one low price. Everything would have turned out just swell by the company’s original math — as long as customers ordered six snow crab legs or fewer, Red Lobster turned a profit. Once again, the world’s Homer Simpsons did them in, with the average customer ordering at least two dozen. To make matters worse, Homers chowing down on 24 or more crab legs tended to spend more time at their tables, blocking the way for other customers who might have ordered more profitable dishes. That quarter cost the seafood chain three million bucks, which sounds tragic until you compare it to the latest $11 million quarterly loss.

If Red Lobster wants to continue its all-you-can-eat disasters, it should at least look to The Simpsons once again. Homer sued The Frying Dutchman for not living up to its all-you-can-eat promise and won the cast, but the restaurant got the last laugh when it made Homer’s gluttony a sideshow attraction. If your customers insist on stuffing their faces, Red Lobster, maybe charge a fee to watch the world’s Homers choke it all down.

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