Endless shrimp await, if you remember to ask

Why you should eat at Red Lobster this month

Red Lobster’s annual Endless Shrimp promotion is a really good deal. How do we know? Because once you get inside the restaurant, no one will tell you about it.

Endless Shrimp is exactly what it sounds like. Between Sept. 1 and Nov. 2, you can order a half-dozen flavors, ranging from Sriracha grilled shrimp to coconut shrimp bites. You order three at a time, but you can order three of the same or different flavors as often as you want. There quite literally is no catch.

Online and on TV, Red Lobster promotes the hell out of Endless Shrimp…

But once you get you inside the restaurant, that all changes.

No signage promotes the deal. It’s not even listed on the main menu. Or the “fresh fish” menu. It’s on the “specials” menu — on the back, where the desserts are. Looks like this…

endlessshrimp

A Seafood Expert — that’s what Red Lobster calls its waitstaff — told Debt.com that waiters and waitresses aren’t allowed to mention Endless Shrimp unless customers ask about it.

While those same Seafood Experts will expound at length about the virtues of the Portofino seafood bake ($20) and wood-grilled salmon with lump crab ($23), all they’re permitted to do when you mention Endless Shrimp is point to that small paragraph on the menu.

So if this article is stoking your craving for some Endless Shrimp, here’s how to get the most crustaceans for the least cash…

1. Skip the salad

Endless Shrimp typically costs $16 per person but can vary between stores, according to EatDrinkDeals.com. The menu we saw listed $17.

The deal comes with a salad and unlimited cheddar biscuits. You should obviously ignore the salad to stuff your face with shrimp, and the cheddar biscuits are always unlimited. You can also make your own.

2. Ask for shrimp to go

Endless Shrimp ends when you leave the restaurant, not when you’re full. Ask for a final tray before you go — and a to-go box. Don’t be shy: They’ll even box it for you. It’s no different than getting a drink refill to go.

3. Get it while it lasts

Endless Shrimp ends Nov. 2. After that, you’ll pay full price for shrimp, and here’s what those prices look like…

  • Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp — $9.50 for six, or $16 as an entree with side and the option to add five extra for $4.50 more.
  • Sweet Chili Shrimp — a $9 appetizer and comes with a dozen shrimp.
  • Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail — another $9 appetizer with six shrimp.
  • Seaside Shrimp Trio — $19 for about 20 shrimp total, plus a side. A mix of fried shrimp, savory garlic shrimp scampi and shrimp linguini Alfredo.

In a best-case scenario, you’re looking at about $1 per shrimp in the trio entree.

4. Go Monday or Tuesday

If you can’t fit Endless Shrimp into your schedule, you can still save a few bucks.

An entree item called “Shrimp Your Way” offers your choice of fried, scampi, coconut bites, or popcorn shrimp. You can normally get two options plus a side for $14, or three for $18.

But on Monday and Tuesday, you can get three options for $16 and all four for $20.

Will Endless Shrimp survive?

Darden Restaurants — the corporation that owns brands like Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse — recently sold Red Lobster . Why? Its profits peaked in 2011, and it wasn’t likely to turn around any time soon, according to a memo from company executives obtained by CNBC.

The new owner, Golden Gate Capital, might make changes. Endless Shrimp is almost certainly a moneymaker for the company, because most people don’t eat enough shrimp to eat into profits. You’d have to come alone and eat about 100 shrimp to make Red Lobster feel it, according to Business Insider.

Then again, Darden has recently been fighting with investors over its unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden. So nothing endless ever really is.

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