One man recently took it upon himself to get to the bottom of an age-old question: how much shrimp does one need to eat before Red Lobster will lose money? This is exactly what you’ve always wanted to know, right? I am so glad that I don’t need to go into 2013 lacking this information, even though I’ve ever been to Red Lobster in my life.
In all seriousness, it’s pretty interesting, even though the information is useless. I’m not about to attempt to screw restaurants out of money by eating more than my fair share of food, but the idea of someone going on an eating extravaganza of that sort does sound like a really fun reality show.
Buying into the bulge
Red Lobster offers an “Endless Shrimp” promotion that – you guessed it – lets a person eat an endless amount of shrimp. It’s a temporary promotion that is not offered year round. Like I said, I’ve never before visited a Red Lobster. But the Red Lobster we’re talking about offers the shrimp deal for $14.99.
Here’s how it all breaks down, according to Business Insider. The restaurant buys shrimp wholesale for about $4.55 a pound. Each pound is made up of 31-35 shrimp. So you’d need to eat about 100 shrimp – or just over three pounds – for the company to lose profit. The manager contacted for Business Insider’s story says that only two of his customers had ever done it. That couldn’t have been pretty.
This got me thinking about other all you can eat deals. I’m a sucker for them, but I’m not sure I ever get my money’s worth. I’m always much hungrier before I actually start eating and, since I have to order in waves, I start to get full by the time round two comes along. I rarely make it to round three.
To be fair, though, I spend about the same amount for all-you-can-eat sushi as I would to order a-la-carte. Plus, it’s more fun. What are some of my other favourite “endless” food deals? I’m glad you asked!
I have very distinct memories of Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl from my teenage years. And the pasta special also came with unlimited salad and breadsticks. Sadly, there are no more Olive Gardens in Ottawa and – according to their website – there are none in Canada at all. At least we still have the all you can eat bread and salad or soup deal at East Side Mario’s, but you’ll have to order an unspectacular pasta dish for $10+ to get it.
Over the summer, Denny’s promoted all you can eat pancakes for $4 on their Facebook page. Obesity: just in time for swimsuit season. I’m so glad that I didn’t know about this special while it was on.
Why is Denny’s on my favourite list, then? The chain also offered all-you-can-eat pancakes to veterans on November 12. I’m a fan of that.
I didn’t eat red meat for 10 years. Then I went to Europe for a couple of months and realized that my diet choices were not going to fly – at least not on my miniscule budget. So, I started eating meat again and came to the conclusion that I quite enjoyed it. And a few years after that, in 2010, I encountered the Montana’s all-you-can-eat rib deal. I’m surprised that I still don’t have rib sauce on my face.
As the Red Lobster example illustrates, it’s pretty tough to get your money’s worth out of an “all-you-can-eat” special – especially when you need to buy a cheap entree at a jacked price to reap the rewards, like at East Side Mario’s.
Make sure you compare the deal to its menu equivalent, because it’s easy to get sucked into the hype. How many helpings are you really going to eat? If it isn’t much more than the (likely already-large) portion on the menu, don’t spring for “endless.”
If you’re just in it for the experience, open your mouth and wallet wide, slap on a bib and for goodness’ sake, don’t stuff any rolls in your bag.
Are you a fan of endless portions? Do you think you could eat 100 of Red Lobster’s shrimp just to get your buck’s worth?