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Washington Square Red Lobster ready for big reveal

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Washington Square Red Lobster is set to re-open Monday after it was torn down and rebuilt as part of a national rebranding.For 25 years, the Red Lobster restaurant near Washington Square mall has been serving seafood and cheesy biscuits to customers across the Westside.

But the restaurant, located at 10330 S.W. Greenburg Road, has been closed since June, as construction crews demolished the building to make way for a new, larger Red Lobster, which is set to reopen next week.

The company has been slowly remodeling its 705 locations since 2009 and hopes to have nearly all of them remodeled by the end of 2014.

But unlike other remodels, Tigard’s store is different, said the business’ general manager, Jon Dunbar.

“The old restaurant I think was two other businesses before we became Red Lobster 25 years ago,” Dunbar said. “Now, it is a very unique restaurant. It allows our guests to relax and focus on the people they care about and have a great dining experience.”

Unlike other Red Lobster remodels, the Washington Square restaurant is one of a kind, said spokeswoman Jenni Izzo

The Tigard location has kept its mezzanine, but Dunbar said the atmosphere upstairs is completely different.

“It’s a much more unique area to dine in,” he said. “It’s very private. Before we had a very large upstairs dining area, but this has made it more personal and quiet.”

When customers enter the new restaurant, they won’t find any nets or anchors or other fishing gear that was long a trademark of the chain.

Instead, the remodel aims for a more modern and open feel.

The business rehired many of its former staff members, including several of the restaurants longtime employees, some who have been with the company for more than 20 years.

“I’m just really excited. For me, it’s all about the people. I genuinely love being in service, and I cant wait to open it,” Dunbar said.

The 299-seat restaurant is expected to re-open Monday, Jan. 13.

The facelift is part of a re-branding for the Orland, Fla.-based company.

The hope is to bring a distinctly New England feel to the restaurant chain, said Heidi Schaur, Red Lobster’s manager of media and communications.

The new look is meant to give diners the feeling of “dining by the seaside” after research showed customers most equated the restaurant chain with coastal Maine.

The new look is in tandem with a revamped menu with more inexpensive and non-seafood options.

The re-build is rare for Red Lobster, Izzo said.

“Typically, remodels in other parts of country take place during operating hours, and you don’t even know it’s happening,” she said. “We are treating this as a reopening rather than a remodeling.”

The store plans a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. on Monday that includes a flag-raising ceremony by Tualatin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3452.

The re-opening comes amid news that Red Lobster’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, is looking to either spin off or sell the popular seafood chain in order to boost value to its shareholders.

The Associated Press reported last month that the company was considering splitting Red Lobster off into its own company, so it can focus on its “core audience.” Company leaders reportedly said they would be reviewing senior management’s compensation and incentive programs in order to emphasize same-store restaurant sales growth and free cash flow.




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