TRAVEL HERE: NEW FACE IN A FAMILIAR PLACE PUTS THE TOWN EAST RED LOBSTER BACK ON THE LIST
Her name was Francesca. It was just another visit to another Red Lobster, but great service made all the difference. Red Lobster has been a perennial favorite with us, but she took an old favorite to a new level.
When Didn’t I Love Red Lobster
The Red Lobster website explains that by the early 70’s there were Red Lobsters all over the Southeast. That sounds about right, because that’s about the time the LBJ Freeway opened up. Mom was working at the new Town East Mall and our family, which lived in East Dallas, were big fans of the new seafood restaurant about halfway to the mall.
Our old location is now a funeral home and we’ve all been guilty of quips like, “Would you like a side-order of crab legs with that coffin?” When they closed the old Red Lobster, they opened a new one just a few clicks down LBJ, so their was no break in our patronage.
When I married Bill, he was already a fan of Red Lobster. He had a sojourn in their management training program and after a decade of experience in the food industry, his time there still stands out in his memory. Open up the subject with him sometime and he will give you an earful. Besides that, he likes Walt’s Shrimp.
During the first years of our marriage, we lived close to the Town East location, so we had a lot of meals there. When our good friend Linda started moonlighting there, we were able to combine a great meal with a nice visit with her, but we would have gone anyway.
After the daughter was out of college Linda’s moonlighting ended and Bill rented office space near the intersection of LBJ and Greenville Avenue. Suddenly we had a new Red Lobster and we were there on the afternoon the move to California came up. Though our time in California proved we loved Dallas more than we thought, building an ocean-side home was one of the items on Bill’s bucket list and he credits Red Lobster with realizing it.
One might think our favorite seafood restaurant in Pismo Beach would have been one of several serving fresh seafood along the shoreline. One would be wrong. Oh, we ate at all the local favorites, but the price was high, the service uneven and the food, well, it was uneven also. So what did we do for seafood? More often than not we drove to the Red Lobster in Santa Maria.
A Recent Meal
A visit to the Town East At Home (Garden Ridge for anyone who hasn’t cottoned to the new name yet), for some fake flowers, put us in the proximity of our old favorite. I’ve got to tell you it was some time last summer we made this trek to Red Lobster, but I’ve been busy. I wrote the post back then and it’s been preempted a number of times by other events. I’ve even visited Red Lobster since then. As a New Year’s Resolution I’ve promised myself to clean out the storehouse of posts I keep for emergencies. January will be a sort of clearance sale of blog posts.
Walking in the restaurant’s front door that day brought a rush of memories. Of course I thought of the many meals Linda served us there, but I also thought about the day mom dropped her glass and drowned her white denim Liz Claiborne jacket in watered-down red sauce.
As the hostess walked us to the back of the restaurant and set us at one of the furthest tables, I thought of all the remodels the location had been through and wondered when the next was due. Once seated, Bill didn’t even open his menu, because he knew he was having Walt’s Shrimp, but my old favorite, coconut shrimp, is not exactly South-Beach-Diet friendly. So, I perused the light menu – because I never want to have to lose all that weight again!
“Hi! Welcome to Red Lobster! My name is Francesca and I will be your server tonight.” Maybe it was the pleasant association with Linda or maybe Francesca was just a good waitperson, but she turned a routine evening into a special occasion. I chose crab legs from the light menu to go with a pinot grigio.
The cheddar biscuits were delivered and I confess to pinching just a bit off one of them, but otherwise I stayed true to South Beach. Besides, South Beach lets me have a bite or two of anything I want – as long as it’s only a bite or two. The wine was good, my meal was too and Bill was in Walt’s Shrimp nirvana. I will admit I wished for the Caesar Salad with croutons. Not because there was anything wrong with my healthier version of side salad, but because I dearly love Red Lobster’s Caesar Salad.
One of Bill’s recent gripes at restaurants is the time it takes to get extra lemons. (My mom always complained about the same thing.) He will tell the waitperson he wants extra lemons when he orders (and it really doesn’t matter what he orders, he wants lemons.). When they bring the order it is obvious that they forgot or they they have a whole different idea of “extra” than he does. Then they ask, “Is there anything else I can get for you?” Bill says, “More lemons.” Then about the time we are finishing up our meal we may or may not finally get the lemons. Not with Francesca. We laughed with her about our frequent lemon dilemma and she actually ran to another par of the restaurant to get him a huge bowl full. Yes, we liked Francesca.
Congratulations to Red Lobster for decades of consistency. We love the food and are always treated well by the staff. Maybe not as well as Linda and Francesca treated us, but head and shoulders above our usual experience with servers. If I wrote a blog post every time we ate at Red Lobster, you’d get bored, but we had such excellent service that I had to tell you about it.
Come back next week. I’ll have something new to share with you.