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Red Lobster shutters dozens of U.S. stores — is Canada next?

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Red Lobster abruptly closed at least 50 of its restaurants across the United States, blindsiding diners and employees of the seafood chain.

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Restaurant liquidator TAGeX Brands announced it was auctioning off items from some of the shuttered Red Lobster locations.

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“TAGeX Brands is proud to launch the largest restaurant liquidation EVER through its online auction marketplace,” Neal Sherman, chief executive of TAGeX Brands, said in a LinkedIn post.

“The furniture, fixtures, and equipment from select Red Lobster locations must go ASAP!”

The chain has 27 restaurants in Canada, with the bulk of its locations — 20 total — in Ontario, including Etobicoke, Scarborough, Oshawa, Mississauga, Brampton, Thornhill, Burlington and Toronto.

The restaurant, which has 649 locations in the U.S., has not publicly commented on the closures.

Red Lobster Canada did not respond to The Toronto Sun‘s request for comment.

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In western New York, four restaurants had the same sign posted on their doors on Monday: “This location is closed.”

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One employee, who works at a Hamburg, N.Y., location, learned he no longer had a job from a co-worker, not head office.

“I’m getting calls after calls this morning and my boy Don called me, and he’s like, ‘You should come in right now,’” Ramon Garcia told WKBW.

“I’m like, ‘Why? I’m off today,’ and he’s like, ‘Man, you just need to come in because there’s a lot of stuff going on,’” Garcia recounted.

Employees were told they had three days to clean out the restaurant, he told the outlet.

“I didn’t know we were going bankrupt, but I kind of knew, if you know what I’m saying,” Garcia said. “They were cutting back on a lot of stuff.”

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Red Lobster was considering filing for bankruptcy due to rising lease and labour costs, Bloomberg reported last month.

In 2023, the company reportedly lost millions of dollars after its endless shrimp offer proved unexpectedly popular with customers.

The all-you-can-eat menu option was previously a limited-time offer, but when the chain made it permanent, diners took advantage and ate more shrimp than restaurants could afford.

“We were expecting an increase of 20% in customer traffic, but the actual number was up to 40%,” Thiraphong Chansiri, the chief executive of Red Lobster’s parent company, Thai Union, said last November, according to CNN.

Two months later, Thai Union announced it would end its involvement with Red Lobster after eating a $530-million loss on its initial investment, which the company blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic and the global rise of interest rates.

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