What foods are millennials into? Instagram-optimized milk shakes and Taco Bell mystery items probably come to mind before, say, Red Lobster. Yet, in a recent survey by Nation's Restaurant News that included over 170 brands, the seafood chain was ranked the top choice among 18- to 24-year-olds, surprising just about everyone—including the restaurant's leadership.
Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup told Business Insider that chasing the young crowd was never part of the chain's strategy. "Red Lobster is not the first place people think of as a favorite restaurant for millennials," he said, adding that they "have not been explicitly targeting millennials. We've just been focusing on making improvements overall."
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This surprising development is good news for the chain, which has recently experienced some serious economic ups and downs, sales dropping 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, and 9 percent the prior quarter. However, after being taken private nearly 2 years ago, Red Lobster has seen positive sales for the last six quarters straight, aided by the additions of trendier food items like lobster tacos, more wood-grilled items, and fancier fare like wild-caught Alaska Sockeye Salmon.