Red Lobster serves up more than lobster, yummy cheddar biscuits

Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 1:39 PM
Updated: Monday, April 29, 2013 @ 1:51 PM

            Red Lobster serves up more than lobster, yummy cheddar biscuits

About those biscuits

Never challenge a Cheddar Bay Biscuits baker to a thumb wrestling contest.

As Tommy Cockrell, the grill master at the Beavercreek Red Lobster on North Fairfield Road, tells it, a biscuit baker’s thumbs gets a workout from mixing up and scooping the all-time favorite.

His store alone pumps out about 1,600 Cheddar Bay Biscuits a day. The chain as a whole pumps out nearly 1.1 million biscuits daily. Chedder Bay Biscuit mix is now sold at Sam’s Club.

Felicia Franley, director of operations for eight Red Lobster stores that includes locations in Dayton, Miamisburg, Beavercreek, Springfield, Piqua and Lima, said the biscuits have undeniable powers.

The biscuits that replaced Red Lobster’s hush puppies about 20 years ago have been used to settle tensions in the waiting area on high traffic days like Mother’s Day.

“It is amazing what biscuits will do,” Franley said.

Grilling fish can be a complicated matter.

Christine Hicks, general manager of the Beavercreek Red Lobster, knows this firsthand.

“Most people overcook fish,” she said.

Her restaurant’s cooks received specified training on heat zone before they are labeled “grill masters.”

Hicks, Tommy Cockrell, a grill master the Beavercreek location, and Felicia Franley, director of operations for the restaurant and seven others, shared few grill tips for backyard griller:

Oil on your grill

“That way (your fish) doesn’t stick and you get those nice marks,” Hicks said.

Used a clean grill

Build up should be removed, Cockrell said.

Baste the fish on the grill

“That way it holds in those intense flavors.” Hicks said. She likes to keep it simple, often sticking to salt, peeper and canola oil.

Be patient

Don’t rush your food,” Cockrell said. At 450 degrees it typically takes nine minutes to cook an 8 ounce piece of salmon. Cook it four and a half minutes on each side.

Let the fish speak for itself

Franley encourages home cooks to experiment with seasoning, but said that the natural fish flavor can be overpowered in the processes.

As a rule of thumb, hardier fish like salmon can take more seasoning than a light fish like tilapia.

Red Lobster announced its new menu late last year with a type of lunch and dinner time “voter” in mind.

“We call it the veto vote,” explained Felicia Fraley, director of operations for eight Red Lobster restaurants in the region, which includes locations in Dayton, Miamisburg, Beavercreek, Springfield, Piqua and Lima. “They say ‘Oh, I don’t eat fish.’ We have great burgers, chicken and we have pork chops.”

Read: Chicken pizza at Red Lobster? Restaurant updates menu options.

While still very much a seafood restaurant with meals featuring sweet and buttery lobster, Fraley said that the chain has revamped its menu and look.

The Beavercreek 223-seat restaurant and all others in Fraley’s territory, with the exception of the Findlay location, recently got face-lifts. The Findlay restaurant will be updated later this year.

Gone is the ’80s decor.

It has been replaced with a warm wood and dim lighting that gives the dining room more class.

Images of Maine lighthouse hang on the walls.

Despite new items such as Southwest Chicken Pizza, Seafood is still taken very seriously as evident by the finesse (see grill tips below) grill master Tommy Cockrell showed while preparing Bar Harbor Salad with grilled Atlantic salmon and grilled island mahi mahi and shrimp topped with pineapple salsa served with green beans and rice pilaf ($17.75).

At $9.99, the Bar Harbor with salmon I tried seems to be a steal. It is $7.99 with chicken or shrimp.

Dried berries, blue cheese crumbles and roasted pecans meshed well with juicy salmon Cockrell prepared over a wood grill.

He’s worked at the Beavercreek Red Lobster, 2803 N. Fairfield Road, for six years and has been one of its grill masters for four.

Christine Hicks, the store general manager, said that their grill masters are tested rigorously on recipes and grill temperatures.

There is little to no time for mistakes on the grill, particularly during busy times, Hicks said.

Beside offering more non-seafood choices, Red Lobster re-evaluated price points.

Hicks said 60 percent of menu options are less than $15. Forty percent was under $15 before the menu change in October.

People often think of Red Lobster as only a place for special occasions, but Hick said that isn’t the case.

“It is actually really affordable to go to Red Lobster,” she said.

Where to find the best bowls of chili in Dayton

Published: Tuesday, February 02, 2016 @ 3:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 02, 2016 @ 3:50 PM

Where to find the best bowls of chili in Dayton

Ask nearly anyone where you can find the best chili in town, and nine times out of 10, the answer will be “my house” — as in the home of the person you asked.

Here are five of the area’s best chili recommendations — and they could not be any different than night and day. Each will make a cold night just a little warmer.

NOTE: prices may have changed since the original publication date of this article. 

Health Inspections: Taco Bell

Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 12:24 PM

Health Inspections: Taco Bell


Address: 109 N. Springboro Pike, Dayton

Date of inspection: Jan. 23

Violations: Observed multiple plastic containers and knives with build-up of food residue. Ensure food contact surfaces are washed, rinsed, and sanitized after use or every 4 hours, if they are used throughout hours of operation, in order to prevent contamination.

- Staff began to clean during inspection

Observed soda nozzles in kitchen and dining area with build-up of food residue. Ensure each are washed, rinsed, and sanitized more frequently so that they are free of build-up and contamination is prevented.

Observed multiple non-food contact surfaces with build-up of food residue. Ensure non-food contact surfaces are cleaned more frequently and maintained so that they are free of build-up.

- Spray nozzle at three compartment sink (underside and around)

- Soda nozzle housings (kitchen)

- Soda machine drains tubes (kitchen)

- Outside of Pro Max flat top grills

Comments: At the time of inspection, heavy ice build-up was observed on shelving and floor of walk-in freezer. PIC informed that maintenance has been contacted for repair. PIC was informed to ensure no foods are stored under ice build-up.

Discussed “wet nesting” of dishes with PIC. PIC was informed to ensure all dishes and utensils are fully air-dried, after washing, before being stored.

PIC was informed to ensure all knives and utensils are free of cracks, breaks, chips, and fraying.

Health Inspections: Arby’s Roast Beef

Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 12:38 PM

Health Inspections: Arby’s Roast Beef


Address: 705 S. Main St., Englewood

Date of inspection: Jan. 23

Violations: Observed boxes of food items on the floor near the ice machine and in the walk-in freezer as well as boxes of soda syrup on the floor. Ensure food items are placed at least 6 inches off the floor to limit the risk of contamination. PIC explained they would be picked up.

Observed build-up in and around the drains in the cabinetry, as well as ice build-up in the freezer. Ensure the hard to reach areas of the facility are cleaned regularly.

Comments: Food items are being held at proper temperatures. Cold items are below 41F and hot items are at or above 135F.

Discussed cleaning hard to reach areas with PIC as well as keeping items off the floor.

Health Inspections: Rally’s

Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 12:21 PM

Health Inspections: Rally’s


Address: 3955 Salem Ave., Dayton

Date of inspection: Jan. 23

Violations: Observed chili hot holding in make table at 131F. Ensure ready-to-eat, TCS food items are held at 135F or above to prevent potential bacterial growth. PIC promptly turned the dial on high of unit to reheat chili to 165F. A second container of chili holding proper temperature is being used as other chili reheats. PIC stated a thermometer is available to check temperature of chili before serving.

Observed some damage to fry baskets on fry line. Repair/replace any damaged fry baskets to prevent potential contamination.

Observed no sanitizer available at the three compartment sink. Ensure sanitizer is available to properly sanitize dishware and utensils to prevent potential contamination. PIC stated sanitizer will be obtained today for three compartment sink.

Comments: PIC stated the grout and missing tiles on floor will be replaced in the next few weeks.

PIC stated the back part of the make table heating unit has recently been repaired and the freezer door has recently had work completed.

Observed handsink properly stocked with warm water, soap, and paper towels.