- China Coast


In 1982, General Mills Restaurant Group Inc., a subsidiary of General Mills and owner of Red Lobster, launched Olive Garden, a chain of Italian food restaurants in their hometown of Orlando, and it was a huge success, with over 300 restaurants within a decade. With about 150 restaurants by 1990, General Mills decided to launch China Coast in Orlando, which would be a sister chain to Olive Garden, except focused on Chinese cuisine, and expected to do just as well. After the pilot location in Orlando did well, plans quickly developed for a nationwide expansion of the concept.

China Coast was relatively progressive for its time, in one 1993 newspaper classified, it reads "We support a culturally diverse workforce, and encourage women and minorities to apply."

However, problems soon came up. Unlike Olive Garden, which had practically no competition in the Italian food sector (especially in smaller towns without a heavy Italian presence), China Coast competed with locally-operated Chinese restaurants, and cooking with a wok was an art rather than flipping a hamburger. Restaurants were oversized for the Chinese food concept, and by 1994 General Mills put expansion to a halt. Shortly after General Mills spun off their restaurant group (with the newly-renamed Darden Restaurants Inc. being a separate company), Darden closed restaurants, and a result after August 21, 1995, 51 restaurants were closed for good, putting about 3,000 employees nationwide out of work.

Every location I've come across (except for the original) has the exact same décor, likely renovated out of the original turquoise "pagoda" style to come closer to the nautical décor of Red Lobster. Supposedly, many were also converted to Olive Garden or closed entirely but I have yet to come across them. List is arranged by state alphabetically, then city.

The restaurants were only in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Texas and Arizona, with a few more states shortly afterward (including Oklahoma and Kentucky, see below). At the time of its closure, some restaurants were planned or under construction. Despite being small, this list (along with the Michigan locations linked) covers almost all of the chain, with many empty spots helped by South Texas Retail filling in the spots. (If you know more, please contact me). Michigan locations of the chain can be seen here (not my site, though I'm pretty sure that page did not exist when I started this page).

Opened Restaurants
Store No.CityStateAddressNotes
6032TusconAZ5870 E. Broadway Blvd.Opened May 1994 in an existing space (Augustino's), now Red Lobster (since 1996). Building also has other tenants.
Altamonte SpringsFL499 E. Altamonte DriveOpened November 1992. Re-opened as Bahama Breeze in 1997. (Thanks Mike M.!)
Fort Walton BeachFL309 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SWOpened 1994. Later Evergreen Chinese Restaurant and Panda Buffet. Currently Ocean Buffet.
LakelandFL3706 North Road 98Opened October 18, 1993, re-opened in 1996 as Red Lobster. (Red Lobster relocated from their first location opened in 1968).
6018MelbourneFL2355 West New Haven AvenueOpened April 1994. Now Red Lobster.
OrlandoFL7500 International DriveFirst location. Later Ronnie's Steakhouse, Salt Island, Taverna Yamas, and Game Changers Sports Bar & Grill, but currently vacant
OrlandoFL7373 West Colonial DriveOpened 1992. Now Red Lobster.
OrlandoFL3552 East Colonial DriveOpened 1994. Now Red Lobster.
OrlandoFL8003 Golden Sky LaneOpened 1994. Re-opened as Red Lobster in 1996.
Port RicheyFL8909 US-19Opened July 4, 1994. Now Red Lobster.
Winter HavenFL230 Cypress Gardens Blvd.Opened 1994. Now Red Lobster
Winter ParkFL335 N. Semoran Blvd.Opened 1994. Demolished by 1999 for adjacent car dealership expansion.
DuluthGA1590 Pleasant Hill RoadOpened September 5, 1994. Later Cooker Bar & Grille and Joe's Crab Shack and now The Krab Hut.
KennesawGA790 Cobb Pl Blvd. NWOpened 1994. Later Cooker Bar & Grille and now On The Border.
IndianapolisIN7303 South US Hwy. 31Opened 1994. Later Joe's Crab Shack and demolished for Take 5 Oil Change.
IndianapolisIN8852 Signature DriveOpened May 1993, site redeveloped into Costco and smaller shops (along with other restaurants in the area, possibly other General Mills concepts)
IndianapolisIN3831 Gemco LaneOpened May 1993, later Red Lobster (which has since closed). Address now 5090 W. 38th Street.
6036St. MatthewsKY986 Breckenridge LaneOpened August 7, 1994. Mentioned in the surviving commercial on YouTube; now Red Lobster.
CincinnatiOH8600 Beechmont AvenueOpened December 1994, later Cooker Bar & Grille and various Mexican restaurants. Demolished in 2013 for Tire Discounters.
ColumbusOH1691 E. Dublin Granville Rd.Opened 1994, converted to Red Lobster (closed c. early 2023)
ColumbusOH2795 S. Hamilton RoadOpened 1995 and never reopened (auctioned off in May 2002 and demolished c. 2005 for new Kaufmann's addition).
Cuyahoga FallsOH420 Howe AvenueOpened 1994, later Cooker Bar & Grille and Joe's Crab Shack. Demolished in 2007 for Chick-fil-A.
DaytonOH7580 Poe AvenueOpened February 1994, later Cooker Bar & Grille and Mr. Lee's Fine Asian Dining, currently Shen's Szechuan & Sushi
Oklahoma CityOK2701 West Memorial RoadOpened February 6, 1995, as the only China Coast in the state. Later China Court Restaurant and Baker Street Pub & Grill. The site is currently vacant.
ChattanoogaTN2200 Bams DriveOpened mid-to-late 1994 and converted to Red Lobster after closure of the chain. (Thanks Ken Towery!)
NashvilleTN1919 Gallatin PikeOpened January 16, 1995, later Joe's Crab Shack and Asia Buffet. Demolished in 2007 for a strip mall.
AddisonTX4300 Belt Line RoadOpened in 1993. Now Fogo de Chão.
6052ArlingtonTX2390 E. Lamar Blvd.Opened in December 1994. Later Grand Buffet and now Take a Bao.
6063ArlingtonTX1109 W. Interstate 20Opened 1995. Later operated as Texana Grill. Torn down in 2008 for a strip mall.
6062Corpus ChristiTX5217 South Padre Island DriveOpened March 6, 1995. Became TGI Fridays in 1997
DallasTX9069 Vantage Point DriveOpened in 1993. Now Red Lobster
6046DallasTX10290 Technology Blvd. E.Opened in 1995. Now Red Lobster (temporarily closed due to a fire)
6027El PasoTX8401 Gateway Blvd. WestOpened in July 1, 1994, reopened as Red Lobster by 1997
6037El PasoTX800 Sunland Park DriveOpened in August 22, 1994. Reopened as Red Lobster in 1996
Fort WorthTX4840 SW Loop 820Opened in March 18, 1994. Later operated as Chef Chen Buffet & Bar before being torn down in 2017 for DXL Big + Tall
6028HoustonTX302 FM 1960 WestOpened 1994 as China Coast and converted into Red Lobster, closed in May 2024 locations purge.
6016HoustonTX2760 Highway 6Opened in 1994 and reopened as Red Lobster in 1996.
6030HoustonTX13232 Northwest FreewayNow Red Lobster (opened '94 as China Coast).
6056IrvingTX4205 W. Airport FreewayOpened 1995. Now Red Lobster
6040LewisvilleTX2497 S. Stemmons Fwy.Opened in 1994. Now Red Lobster
6024McAllenTX711 E. Expressway 83Opened in July 1994. Later Joe's Crab Shack (closed and demolished in 2017 for Rio Bank Tower)
MesquiteTX4000 Towne Crossing Blvd.Opened in 1993. Now Posados Cafe
6019North Richland HillsTX7536 Grapevine Hwy.Opened August 1994, later New Dragon, Evergreen Chinese Super Buffet, and Takara Japanese Steakhouse, now Japan House (address now 7536 Boulevard 26)
6031PlanoTX5012 West Park Blvd.Opened in 1994, later China Garden and Osaka Sushi (torn down in 2021 for Chili's)
6009Texas CityTX10510 Emmett Lowry ExpresswayOpened December 13, 1993, later Cafe Shangri La, China One Restaurant, and Uncle Chen's Super Buffet. Currently Beyond Burger (opened after a period of vacancy).
6050WacoTX5925 West Waco DriveOpened 1994 originally, Red Lobster in 1996.
ChesapeakeVA1440 Greenbrier Pkwy.Later Cooker Bar & Grille and Vivo Cucina. Demolished in 2007 for Cracker Barrel.
ChesapeakeVA4108 Portsmouth Blvd.Opened 1994, later divided between Bank of Hampton Roads and Mattress Discounters, now divided between Union Bank & Trust and Mattress Firm

Unopened Restaurants
Altamonte SpringsFL340 W. State Rd 436Never opened, became Red Lobster in 1998
LargoFLUlmerton Rd. and 101st St.Never built
TampaFL4115 E. Busch Blvd.Never opened; later Cooker Bar & Grille, Casa Mexicana, and Classic Homestyle Buffet. Now Value Pawn & Jewelry. See link above regarding construction.
BloomingdaleILArmy Trail RoadNever built, site redeveloped into a bank
AlbanyNY170 Wolf RoadNever opened, became Red Lobster in 1998
YorkPAKenneth Road and Route 30Never built

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