Charleston Red Lobster restaurant closes after nearly 40 years

A seafood restaurant that’s served the Charleston region for nearly four decades has turned out the lights, boarded up the building and removed all signage.

Red Lobster closed Jan. 29 at 2080 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. near Citadel Mall, according to a restaurant worker.

The dining spot first opened near the Mark Clark Expressway in 1984, a couple of years after the nearby sprawling retail center attracted shoppers to West Ashley and long before most indoor malls fell out of fashion and the internet changed shopping habits.

The Orlando-based company said Feb. 3 the time had come to move its menu options elsewhere.

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“We regularly review our restaurant portfolios as part of the normal course of business, and as a result, we have concluded that this location is no longer right for Red Lobster,” spokeswoman Lia Reynolds said in a statement. “Therefore, we made the difficult decision to close our restaurant at 2080 Sam Rittenburg Blvd.”

The company said employees were offered jobs at other Red Lobster locations, including the restaurant at 2460 Mall Drive in North Charleston, which opened in 1978 and is still in business.

“In closing this location, we hope to redeploy and add resources to other locations where we can continue in our growth, whether it’s by developing our people in a new way or providing more innovative food choices to our guests,” the company said.

The 2-acre restaurant site last sold in 2015 for nearly $3 million to WV Lonestar Owner LLC of Orlando, according to Charleston County land records.

The casual dining chain is owned by Thai Union Group and Red Lobster Management LLC. It currently has 667 locations in 44 states, including a dozen in South Carolina. In 2019, the company operated about 750 restaurants across the nation.

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