Private Equity Firm Pays $2.1 billion in Cash for Red Lobster’s Biscuit Recipe

SAN FRANCISCO — It is no secret that Red Lobster’s success has always been its famous Cheddar Bay Biscuits, but the secret recipe for the tasty morsels has remained closely guarded for years. As it turns out, cold hard cash is the key ingredient. Today Darden Restaurants, the owner of the causal dining chain, announced that it has agreed to sell Red Lobster’s coveted biscuit recipe to Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion in cash.

Countless chefs and homemakers have squandered their livelihoods—and occasionally their lives—in a quixotic quest to reverse engineer the biscuits, of which Red Lobster bakes fresh by the millions every day.

“I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into trying to figure out what makes them so irresistible,” said chef Jeremy Thompson of rival seafood chain, Long John Silver’s. “I tried sugar, cardamom, you name it.”

After watching an episode of the series “Breaking Bad,” Thompson decided in desperation to “sell [his] kidney for a pound of meth[amphetamine],” which he then tried mixing into the dough. “The biscuits weren’t half bad,” he admitted, “but they just weren’t the same.” According to Thompson, the gritty consistency made them hard to chew after his teeth started falling out.

For its part, Golden Gate Capital’s injection of cash will allow Darden to pay down $1 billion in debt and “focus on the Olive Garden brand renaissance program.” As part of the program, Darden plans to spend $700 million studying how cheddar cheese can be used to enhance the “flavor and addictiveness” of the breadsticks baked by their remaining flagship restaurant, Olive Garden.

Rebecca Saunders, COO of Golden Gate Capital, is eager to enter Red Lobster’s “Holy of Holies” and learn the magic formula.

“It’ll be worth the $2.1 billion,” said Saunders, “even if it turns out the secret ingredient is nothing more than a $2.10 stick of butter baked into every biscuit.”