It’s better down where it’s wetter! My Red Lobster review.

The Good, The Ugly, and Everything Between.

It is better, down where it’s wetter!

Red Lobster

22 October 2010

Written by: Del Dotson

Since I joined the work force, most of my jobs have been in the restaurant industry.  I’ve worked at buffets, cafeterias, steakhouses, seafood places, and even a Hooter’s once.  The last restaurant I had the “pleasure” of working at was Red Lobster, on exit 7.

The Good

Let me just start off by saying, this restaurant had the cleanest kitchen I have ever seen in a restaurant.  I loved it.  Well, I hated it sometimes, because just about every hour on the hour the kitchen staff had to drop what they were doing, and clean.  That’s right, we did it more or less every hour, or if it got really dirty, whichever came first.  I hated having to drop what I was doing on the prep line to sweep/squeegee the floor, organize the walk-in refrigerator, or pick up everything and sanitize the work stations.  But in the long run, when my shift was over, I had less side work to do, and I didn’t have to clean anything.  I liked that part of it very much.

The people I worked with were great, I enjoyed going to that job.  They could make an 8 hour shift seem like it was nothing, and some days, I even slowed down my work so that I could stay longer because everyone was getting along so well (those days were few and far between, though).

I prepped the fish.  Specifically, I breaded the fish/shrimp/etc. every day to get it ready for the fry cooks.  It wasn’t a hard job, and I learned a lot about how to cook some mighty fine seafood while I was employed there.

The Ugly

This is where I draw a blank for this article!  Usually when people are doing things they’re not supposed to be doing in a restaurant, the consequences trickle down to the customers.  I can safely say that the customers at Red Lobster on exit 7 have nothing to worry about.  Their food is cooked exactly how it should be cooked, the kitchen is near-spotless all the time, and no one even jokes about messing up the food or their job.  There are (or were when I worked there over a year ago) however, still the occasional drug users.  One of the dishwashers I worked with went out by the dumpsters during the first cigarette break of the day and smoked some meth, and there was another guy on the production line that was high almost all the time.  Not while he was at work, but you could tell that’s all he did other than work on the prep line with me.  That same day, they both indulged themselves out of the test tube, and I’ve never seen so much work get done in such a short amount of time.

On a regular work day there, I would show up, set up my station and get to work on a “par sheet”.  It told me exactly how many fish fillets I had to bread, how many coconut shrimp I had to make, etc.  There were 2 people working on breading (another gentleman and myself), there were 2 people on salad prep (they didn’t make salads, but worked with all of the veggies) and 2 guys prepping the lobster tails and such for the broiler.  Each station had so much work to do, we didn’t have any time to help out the other prep stations.  But the day the other prep guy and the dishwasher guy got on that redneck heroin, they were walking around the back looking for things to do.  The prep guy finished his par sheet and helped me work on mine.  He turned my 8-9 hour work day into a 5 and a half hour day.  And the dishwasher was the only person in the dish room because of how early it was, and the entire kitchen could not dirty up enough dishes and utensils to keep that man busy.  You know that “Theoretical Rate of X” you learn about in school or business classes (especially)?  The value that is not realistic and is merely the fastest possible rate at which things could get done if everything was perfect?  That’s the rate at which those 2 guys moved.  Which is why we compared every work day after that to that one day, and called it a “burst-of-energy”.

I do have to say though that the General Manager, being a young guy, I know had to have done some partying in his day, because he knew if anyone was on anything, anytime.  A lot of people would get sent home if they weren’t performing well due to a hangover.  He was understanding about it and most of the time it worked out well.  Which is another thing that’s good for the customers, because you don’t want someone breading your fish that smells like vodka from the night before.

Everything Between

This is a very professional establishment, that does what Red lobster does best: make delicious seafood.  For lack of a better phrase, they do it like it’s their job, and they make it look so easy.  A lot of the cooks and prep guys are very good at what they do, some of them have been chefs all their lives.  Why they are not working at a higher-end restaurant is beyond me.

I didn’t appreciate going out to eat there until after I worked there.  The prices are more than fair, ask to take a look back in the kitchen one good time, and you’ll know what I mean.  There is a lot of work that goes into each and every dish that passes through the various stations, ovens, and servers, before it finally makes it to your table.  I recommend eating there, I recommend working there if you can get a job.  I went through a period of trials and tribulations, where I was dealing with a lot of personal problems and could not continue working at Red Lobster.  About a year and a half later, I tried getting a job at Red Lobster again because it is such a good place to work.  The hours are fair, the management is superb, and the co-workers are fun to be around.  Everyone gets along and enjoys what they do, even though they pretend they hate it.  I didn’t get the job.  It’s the only time I was told point blank that I was not going to be working somewhere, and it made me a little sad.

I’ve lived in a lot of places, and visited many cities in the United States.  I’ve also eaten at a lot of different restaurants, and when it comes to common restaurants you get uncommonly well prepared food at this Red Lobster.  Overall I would give it a 4/5.  Compared to most Red Lobster locations, including the Johnson City location, it is well above average.  So if you’ve just moved here, or are just visiting our little nook in the cranny of South West Virginia and you don’t particularly care for Red Lobster.. try this one out.  It’ll be worth it, I put my personal guarantee on it.

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