Red Lobster Restaurants Very Much Open for Business

The Red Lobster restaurant chain on Dec. 30 flatly refuted rumors that it is closing.

Rich Jeffers, speaking on behalf of Orlando, Florida, USA-headquartered Darden Restaurants Inc., which owns the chain, said the rumor may have started after the website LA Weekly published a story suggesting that the company faced an "uncertain future." A flood of tweets and other online media followed with reports that the chain was shutting down.

"We are not closing any restaurants," Jeffers told ABCNews.com on Friday.

The confusion may also be linked to Darden's pre-Christmas announcement that Darden plans to sell or spin off the Red Lobster chain into a separate company. Red Lobster, which ranks as the leading seafood restaurant operation in North America with more than 700 outlets, is a major buyer of frozen shrimp, lobster and other frozen products.

Even as Darden mobilized to quash the unsubstantiated rumors, by Dec. 27 the false "Red Lobster Closing" story ranked as the top item trending on Yahoo, and the rumor was the subject of a rash of Tweets and Facebook posts.

"To clarify, reports that Red Lobster is closing are false," the company tweeted out Friday. "We're looking forward to your next visit!"

While Darden Restaurants announced last week it plans to sell or spin off the Red Lobster chain into a separate company, "we never said we were closing any restaurants," Jeffers commented.

A number of media organizations wrongly assumed the restaurants were closing and reported that, he added. "You had a couple outlets where clearly folks weren't practicing good journalism, and no one called to verify if what they read in LA Weekly was accurate.”