Red Lobster is bringing back an iconic deal to escape the 'sea of sameness' plaguing the restaurant industry

  • Red Lobster's Lobsterfest returns on Monday. 
  • New items include lobster truffle mac and cheese, stuffed tilapia topped with lobster, and new cocktails. 
  • The chain's CEO told Business Insider that focusing on seafood sets Red Lobster apart from the casual-dining industry's "sea of sameness." 

 

Red Lobster is bringing back a classic promotion to separate itself from a casual-dining industry plagued by boredom. 

On Monday, the seafood chain kicks off its annual Lobsterfest. The event has no official end date but will continue for a few months, executives told Business Insider. 

21 restaurants that offer free food:

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21 restaurants offering free food
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21 restaurants offering free food

Arby’s 

Sign up for the email list at Arby’s, and you’ll get a free Roast Beef Classic with the purchase of a beverage.

Photo credit: Getty

Bakers Square

Register for the email list at Bakers Square, and you’ll get a free entree with the purchase of a second entree and two drinks.

Photo credit: Facebook 

Buca di Beppo

Sign up for the Buca di Beppo e-club, and you’ll get free pasta, plus a $20 gift on your birthday.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

Checkers

Become a member of the Flavorhood at Checkers, and you’ll land a coupon for a free order of large french fries with any purchase.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

Dairy Queen 

Brave the elements and join the Blizzard Fan Club at Dairy Queen, and you’ll receive a coupon for a buy one, get one Blizzard treat free. 

Photo credit: Getty

Del Taco

Sign up for the Raving Fan EClub at Del Taco, and you’ll enjoy two free grilled chicken tacos, plus a complimentary premium shake on your birthday. 

Photo credit: Getty

Houlihan’s

Give Houlihan’s your email address, and you’ll score $10 off, plus a free entree on your birthday.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

IHOP 

Enlist in the Pancake Revolution at IHOP, and you’ll secure a free full stack of Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity Pancakes, plus a gratis meal on your birthday. 

Photo credit: Getty

Joe’s Crab Shack 

Surf over to sign up for the Joe’s Catch E-Club at Joe’s Crab Shack, and you’ll get a free appetizer. 

Photo credit: Getty

LongHorn Steakhouse 

Saddle up for the Steakholders Club at LongHorn Steakhouse, and you’ll get a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree. 

Photo credit: Getty

Olive Garden 

Join the Olive Garden E-Club, and enjoy a complimentary appetizer or dessert when you order two adult entrees.

Photo credit: Getty

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Sign up for the e-club at Maggiano’s Little Italy, and you’ll receive $10 off your next visit.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

Pizza Hut
 
Say “I do” to the Hut Lovers at Pizza Hut, and you’ll get free cheese sticks with a future online order. 

Photo credit: Getty

Red Lobster

Join the crew of the Fresh Catch Club at Red Lobster, and choose a free appetizer or dessert when you order two adult entrees. You’ll also get a surprise birthday offer. 

Photo credit: Getty

Rubio’s

Catch the wave with Rubio’s Beach Club, and you’ll savor the flavor of a free taco.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

Ruby Tuesday

Sign up for So Connected at Ruby Tuesday, and you will receive a free appetizer when you join, plus a free burger or Garden Bar entree on your birthday. 

Photo credit: Getty

Sizzler

Join Sizzler’s Real Deal Eclub, and you’ll get a free entree.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

Subway

Sign up at Subway and agree to receive weekly text offers, and you will get a free 6-inch sandwich with the purchase of a 30-ounce drink. 

Photo credit: Getty

Texas Roadhouse

Join the Texas Roadhouse email list, and you’ll enjoy a free appetizer.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

TGI Fridays

Join Fridays Rewards, and you’ll get “free food like chips and salsa with every Fridays visit,” according to the chain’s website. 

Photo credit: Getty

Village Inn

Join the Village Inn e-club, and you’ll enjoy a slice of pie on the house with an adult entree purchase.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

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Red Lobster is currently doubling down on seafood to distinguish itself from other chains in the struggling sit-down casual-dining industry. Casual-dining chains have been plagued by a "sea of sameness," CEO Kim Lopdrup told Business Insider. 

"We're different," Lopdrup said, referring to the chain's seafood offerings. "We're looking to actually increase our margin of difference, and increase our superiority." 

Rolling out new seafood options is crucial to that plan, even as other chains aggressively slash their menus. 

New Lobsterfest menu items this year include lobster truffle mac and cheese, stuffed tilapia topped with lobster, and a revamped Lobsterfest surf and turf with Maine lobster tail and a grilled sirloin.

"You'd think that everything by now would be done, but they keep finding new ways to do things," Lopdrup said of the seemingly endless lobster varieties. "Food is an art."

Red Lobster is also adding two new drinks to the menu for the promotion: Lobster Lover's Punch and Tropical White Sangria, which comes with collectible charms. 

This year, Red Lobster is also using Lobsterfest to promote its recent investments in sustainability. The company recently launched a new website to promoted its "Seafood With Standards," explaining the chain's promises to serve food that is 100% traceable, sustainable, and responsibly sourced.

Visitors may notice some other tweaks to Red Lobster when they show up for Lobsterfest.

Red Lobster has debuted tasting plates to encourage happy hour snacking, as well as a new "globally-inspired" section with options like Dragon Shrimp. The chain recently made a $50 million investment in upgrading its kitchens, following menu elevations like increases in the size of its shrimp. More expensive than any showy investments, Lopdrup says, are little tweaks, like a recently revamped salad. 

"It starts with having faith that, if you're the best, more people will come," Lopdrup said. "Some of that is in the short term, some of that is in the long term." 

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