Why is Red Lobster so popular with African-Americans?

First off, look at my post count. I’m not one of those rumored Nazis. I’m actually a liberal Democrat.

Anyhow, the observation, racist as it may seem to some.

In many very white subrurban communities, if you go to any chain restaurant, the customer base will generally reflect that of the area population. Step into Red Lobster, though, and the customers are much more … well, there’s always a disproportionately large number of African-Americans compared to other restaurants.

When talking about restaurants, African-Americans I know always mention Red Lobster as one of their favorites, almost to the exclusion of other chain restaurants.

Why is the Red Lobster brand of the Darden group of restaurants so overwhelmingly popular with African-Americans?

I dunno… why is Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits so popular?

Overwhelmingly? Got any statistics to back that up?

This should definitely be in IMHO or GD since there is not a factual answer to this question.

My roommate in college likened it to a “takeover.” Red Lobster used to be a nice restaurant–just as restaurants like Steak & Ale and Olive Garden used to be much nicer than they are now. Franshising made them less exclusive and more accessible to the masses. Promotions advertised on TV get people in the door that would not normally come, with their eyes fixed on the least expensive item on the menu. This led to “white flight” and African-Americans embraced the restaurant as their own.

The above is a horrible generalization, but so was the OP.

It is a horrible generalization … and no, I don’t have any statistics to back it up. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be asking this. It’s one of those yforum.com-type “if you ask about anything that has to do with race, you’re racist!” questions.

Red Lobster on the Eastern Shore of MD is still pretty integrated and it’s certainly not the cheapest (or best) seafood around even with promotions. That being said some restaurants can and do occasionally develop a race stratified clientele because certain people, clubs or groups in the community like to eat there and others who take their cue from them follow suit. Sometimes it’s just a phase and other times it becomes a fixture in the community for certain ethnic groups.

I have sold several restaurants over the years (as a broker) and although they have (fairly or unfairly) a reputation among servers as poor (or non) tippers, African Americans are not all all reticent about spending money if they perceive they are getting value for their dollar. They only problem from some owner’s perspective(s) (especially for the bar portion of the business) is that if the business goes heavily black, even for a limited period of time, they are likely to lose the majority of their white customers permanently.

Makes you wonder how blacks must feel if they are the minority in most places where they eat simply due to population stats. If I could go to a restaurant and have a good chance of seeing familar faces and get a decent meal it would certainly be a favored place to dine.

*Originally posted by astro *
They only problem from some owner’s perspective(s) (especially for the bar portion of the business) is that if the business goes heavily black, even for a limited period of time, they are likely to lose the majority of their white customers permanently.

I don’t understand this line of thinking. Why is this a problem? They still make a profit no matter who is spending the money, don’t they? Are they afraid that it is a temporary infatuation with the restaurant and the black customers will also leave?

First, you mean Black people, right? Not just African-Americans. The terms are not synonymous. There’s no way you can tell just by appearance. I’m going to assume you mean Blacks. Second, Red Lobster is popular? That’s news to me. :rolleyes:

I haven’t noticed it to be true at the local RL. The customer base seemed to be a pretty normal cross-section of our city’s population.

First why do you feel that mentioning your political affiliation makes you immune to being a racist?

2nd I have no idea but I’ve heard the following many years ago (apx 15yrs) - Red Lobster though expensive is usually cheaper then a high class seafood place so people who don’t want to spend alot but still get seafood go there, black people are usually at the lower income scale. Also they had/have a satifaction garantee so if the bill was higher then expected they would complane and get it for free.

Another observation while sampleing buffets that if there is one visited by a high number of blacks, they tend to go for crab legs and some times it gets nasty if they bring out lobster - I’ve seen them (yes all black and yes several times at diffrent buffets 10’s of miles apart) take serving utensils from other dishes and stand around the empty lobster plate waiting for a refill - then when it comes over - well did you ever see a shark feeding frenzy - kind of scary.

Gosh, this is such a touchy subject, and none of us want to be perceived as racists (except, or maybe including bona fide racists?). In any case, despite not wanting to be perceived a certain way, this phenomenon is entirely based on perception, so take this as you will.

My (meaning the one closest to me) local Red Lobster is almost exclusively frequented by black people. No hard statistics, just casual observation on numerous occurrences. I attribute this to two things, one of which may target me at a racist (I hope not).

One: this restaurant is in a white neighborhood (around here white means any race but black), but within 3 miles of the Detroit border. The famous “8 Mile Road” is the dividing line between admittedly racist cities and Detroit (one city changed its name from “East Detroit” in order to eliminate the Detroit association). For a full understanding of what 8-Mile is, you’d really have to know the local Detroit vs. Suburb politics that I won’t go into here. Please accept it or refute it as you deem. The point is, this part of Detroit doesn’t attract any investment, and you must leave the city in order to get to any type of “fine” restaurant. This particular Red Lobster is about the closest chain restaurant (this is important) that’s regarded as “fine” and hence the clientele. Being a “chain” is important, because they have a lot to loose via bad publicity a la Denny’s. The little locally-owned places can discourage “undesired” customers without any realy negative effects.

Two: the above said, Red Lobster is for some reason regarded as “fine.” Sure, it costs a little more than White Castle, and they have a bar, but there’s nothing that makes it “fine” – it’s on par with all the Chili’s, Applebees, TGI Fridays, et al. A good place to go for decent, waited service. But, “fine-ness” is all subject to income and standard of living. Red Lobster was once “fine” in my eyes (even though I detest all seafood). Of course, the Detroit standard of living is well below that of the suburbs (find the stats yourself); therefore Red Lobster is upscale. When we go to Red Lobster, I have no shame walking in wearing blue jeans and a tee-shirt – it’s that kind of place in my eyes. The black clientele, however, is usually impeccably dressed and well groomed, which is what contributes to my impression that the place is regarded as “fine.” To compare, when I go to other places frequented by black clientele, such as the neighboring Chi-Chi’s, the overal apparel is more down-to-earth.

That just isn’t the case here is South PA. I occasionally go on a Sunday afternoon and do not notice an unusual mix of the population.

I want to know why there’s so many damn white guys at the 4 seasons.

I don’t think there is any racist about the question at all.

I just asked some black friends and co-workers (I hate to even refer to anyone as white black etc) and they chuckled because they say it all the time.

Their spin (and that’s about all you’ll get because this belongs in IMHO) is that many chain restaurants are popular with blacks, especially ones that do alot of frying (they grew up w/ alot of frying). Red Lobster has good specials, does alot of frying and is a chain. Alot of them started going after church on Sundays for an early dinner or just lunch. That was a big reason many of them started going.

To be honest, I’ve had (past tense!) friends who hated RL because they didn’t like the mixed crowd. So, some dumb ass racist people I knew made casual observations. Losers.

I also made the observation that alot of balcks eat at RL - so what?. I find the crowd to be very nice and for a chain with a busy atmosphere, RL is okay with me. I’ve been there a number of times on Sunday and noticed a large black customer base. I realize there are cultural reasons as to why things sometimes work out certain ways. Nothing shocking there.

When I opened this thread, this was going to be my answer. The Olive Garden has decent pasta–but it isn’t fried. Applebees, Ruby Tuesday, TGIFriday’s, and all the other “non-ethnic” chains, (even Bob Evans), make a point of grilling or broiling nearly all their food–with lots of entrèes marked with little “health” icons. On the other hand, Red Lobster still fries many of their entrèes. (When I was a kid, we traveled a lot during the summer. I can remember being able to order a wide selection of fried food at most seafood restaurants. The last couple of times we took the kids to a seafood resturant, we had to look hard to find even fried shrimp for my daughter–and there was nothing else fried on the menu. My tastes have moved far away from frying fish, but, apparently, so have most other people’s.)

Since fried food is still very popular among blacks, it is a restaurant where they can go “out to dinner” and find tasty, familiar food.

I think Philster, Tom etc. have pretty much nailed it, but this thread over in GD made be wonder if there could be some sort of presidential connection here. Sure enough, a quick search on “Red Lobster” “Bill Clinton” gives nearly 500 hits !

You would think green = green no matter who’s buying, but sadly this isn’t the case. Racists don’t want to serve people they deem inferior. It doesn’t matter if they get paid for it; it still irks them.

I have never eaten at a Red Lobster in my life, though I’ve heard their cheddar cheese biscuits are good. And this is the first time I’ve ever heard of there being a disproportionate number of black patrons at RL. I guess I missed the memo.

I see absolutely nothing racist about the original post. Perhaps certain people have their PC radars up a bit too high, no? Beep beep.

You would think green = green no matter who’s buying, but sadly this isn’t the case. Racists don’t want to serve people they deem inferior. It doesn’t matter if they get paid for it; it still irks them.

Sorry, but this isn’t true. If you have racists who run businesses, they won’t send away paying customers just because they’re black or whatever (I know a lot of racists, but not -that- stupid)- they’ll just make racist jokes about them in the kitchen and spit in their food. Obviously, you’ve never worked for someone who’s a virulent racist.

‘Not that stupid’ should have read ‘none who are that stupid’.

To continue in the current line of gross generalizations, an affection for fried foods is typical of persons with roots in the Southeastern U.S., white AND black.

See Ernest Matthew Mickler’s White Trash Cooking and John Egerton’s Southern Food, as well as any “soul food” cookbook.