Red Lobster’s Biggest Fan Gives Advice to the Chain’s New Owners

LobStar, a super-fan of the chain, dishes out advice to Golden Gate Capital.

May 16, 2014 — -- Now that Red Lobster has some new owners, one of the restaurant chain's biggest fans has a word of advice for its management: Keep your claws off the cheesy biscuits and the Ultimate Feast.

Ashley Berner, 28, from Laotto, Indiana, holds the venerable title of "LobStar" -- a title bestowed by Red Lobster after choosing a customer who posts social media photos from inside one of its restaurants.

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Berner, who was crowned with the honor last month, said the new ownership doesn't change her affection toward Red Lobster and she doesn't expect much to change.

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There are plenty of other dining choices in her small rural farm community, but she and her family usually choose to celebrate special occasions at the Fort Wayne Red Lobster location, she said. What brings her back for each birthday or special event? "Definitely what they offer," she said.

In fact, Berner said she's going to the restaurant tonight in celebration of her parents' wedding anniversary. Their consistent menu favorite: the "Ultimate Feast."

"It has a little bit of everything: lobster, crab legs and shrimp," she said. "If they got rid of that, we’d be pretty angry."

The company describes the dish on its website as follows: "A tender split Maine lobster tail, steamed North American snow crab legs, garlic shrimp scampi and Walt's Favorite Shrimp," all for about $26, depending on where in the country the restaurant is located.

Tonight, however, Berner said she hopes to try Red Lobster's macaroni and cheese dish that she's seen advertised on television lately.

Erica Ettori, a Red Lobster spokeswoman, described the LobStar program as "a fun way to celebrate our guests' love of seafood and Red Lobster. It's a program where Facebook fans can share photos of their in-restaurant experience on our Wall for a chance to be featured as the LobStar of the Week."

Josh Olshansky, managing director at Golden Gate Capital, called Red Lobster "an exceptionally strong brand with an unparalleled market position in seafood casual dining." But he was mum on what kind of changes, if any, Golden Gate had in store for the chain.

And if you're wondering if Berner won anything for being chosen as a LobStar, she said she only won the honor of being promoted on Red Lobster's Facebook page and other social media accounts.

She has her father to thank for that. He heard of the LobStar campaign and shared her photo with Red Lobster.