In a statement to shareholders, the company says it plans to spin off or sell the legendary seafood chain and its 705 locations across the United States and Canada. Darden also will halt expansion of the Olive Garden and drastically limit the number of new LongHorn Steakhouse branches.
Darden brands have suffered as consumers move toward "fast causal" restaurants like Panera and Chipotle.
Moving forward, the Florida-based company will concentrate on its more upscale "specialty restaurants" like Eddie V's, Yard House, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and the Capital Grille. Seasons 52 just recently moved into the Houston market.
New "specialty" locations will be built across the nation in the coming year, albeit at a slower pace than previously announced.
Despite a continent-wide remodeling effort, poor Red Lobster saw customer traffic plummet nearly 8 percent in the last quarter compared to the same time last year. Olive Garden and LongHorn had modest sales gains, though primarily due to massive expansion efforts.