Red Lobster and waffles

Source: Jordan Lebeau, New York Times (Paid Registration)

In general, casual dining chains like Red Lobster are in trouble. Major franchises like T.G.I. Fridays and Applebee’s have stumbled through a decade of losses, and many chains, including Friendly’s and Bennigan’s, have filed for bankruptcy. Americans have changed their dining habits: The country’s upper class has soured on paying $15 to $20 per meal for bland bar fare, and the chain sustaining middle class can no longer afford it. That, coupled with a widening breadth of delivery options through third-party services like Seamless and UberEats, makes the future of casual dining chains unclear.

Restaurants have responded to this shift in consumer behavior in uneven, often stomach churning ways.

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