Horace Dawson appointed CEO of Red Lobster

BY Preta Peace Namasaba September 26, 2023 9:09 PM EDT
Horace Dawson. Photo source: Red Lobster

Horace Dawson has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Red Lobster, the world’s largest seafood restaurant chain. His journey with the company began in 2014 when he assumed the role of Executive Vice President and General Counsel, overseeing legal affairs, communications, risk management, and government affairs. Additionally, Dawson will also be a member of the Red Lobster board.

This significant announcement follows a period of approximately one and a half years during which the company operated without a CEO. Dawson’s leadership comes at a crucial juncture as Red Lobster strives to enhance its profitability. The restaurant chain faced challenges due to pandemic-related dining restrictions and initiated the closure of multiple locations at the beginning of 2023. With Dawson’s 30 years of experience, his leadership will play a pivotal role in steering the company towards a prosperous future.

I am very excited to be stepping into the role of CEO for Red Lobster. This is an important time for our brand. We are continuing to evolve our menu and guest experience to give our guests more of what they want every time they visit one of our restaurants. We have some of the most passionate customers and dedicated employees in the restaurant industry and I am looking forward to working with my teams to address the challenges we face in light of industry headwinds and to execute on our plans and deliver results.

Horace Dawson in Red Lobster

Dawson holds an impressive academic background, having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, a Juris Doctor, and an MBA, all from Harvard University. Prior to his tenure at Red Lobster, he held significant positions at Darden Restaurants, serving as Vice President, Division General Counsel, and Senior Associate General Counsel.

Dawson’s career journey began as an Associate at Baker & McKenzie, followed by roles at Summit Rovins & Feldesman and as Staff Counsel at Reliance Group Holdings. He continued to expand his expertise, taking on roles such as Corporate Counsel at Telemundo Network Group, subsequently advancing to Vice President and Assistant General Counsel. His career progression also led him to the positions of Senior Director, Business Affairs, Vice President, and General Counsel at Hard Rock Cafe International.

A passionate civic engagement leader, Dawson sits on the Boards of Directors of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Restaurant Law Center, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and Stronger America Through Seafood. He also serves on the Boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, and the Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys, and is a member of the Orlando Advisory Committee for City National Bank.

Operating with approximately 670 locations across the United States, Red Lobster is strategically directing its efforts towards the expansion of My Red Lobster Rewards and bolstering off-premise sales. Horace Dawson now leads the helm of a company in the midst of a significant transitional phase.