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Red Lobster passes on Clarksburg for now

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Red Lobster is a dead lobster -- at least for now in Clarksburg.

Officials in the national chain's corporate headquarters confirmed Tuesday that there are no plans to build a restaurant in the Clarksburg area.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Red Lobster officials were conducting a "site search" with the possibility of building a restaurant at New Pointe Plaza.

A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that the company had been looking at several cities about the size of Clarksburg-Bridgeport. However, high-ranking Red Lobster officials have decided not to expand into the smaller markets, the source said. Red Lobster officials also have permanently ruled out Clarksburg as a potential site because the market is saturated, according to the source.

Red Lobster spokesman Joe Chabus said he could not confirm or deny that information, but said there are no plans to bring the restaurant to Clarksburg anytime soon.

He stopped short of saying it will never happen, however.

"I'd hate to say never, ever and then in a couple of years, bang, there you go, a 'Red Lobster Coming Soon' sign is up, but at this point, we have not decided to build a restaurant in Clarksburg," Chabus said. "Red Lobster is very popular and we are very thrilled that people in Clarksburg want us to be a new neighbor, but it just doesn't look like we're ready."

Former Vice Mayor Kathryn Folio said Tuesday that she doesn't think Clarksburg had ever been officially selected, despite some reports that the restaurant was coming here. Chabus confirmed that no contracts had ever been signed and no definite plans were ever made.

Folio is president of North Central Distributors Inc., and periodically receives a construction list of restaurants that will serve liquor. Folio's company handles distribution of beer, soda, wine and liquor.

She said Tuesday that Red Lobster is not on the list, which runs through 2003. Folio said if Red Lobster had finalized plans to build in Clarksburg, it would be on the list because it is a national account.

For example, Folio's list included Ruby Tuesday, which is slated for a 2003 opening.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com

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