Carbon-izer.com - China Coast

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, which would be a sister chain to Olive Garden, except focused on Chinese cuisine, and expected to do just as well, and after a 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
CityStateAddressNotes
TusconAZ5870 E. Broadway Blvd.Opened May 1994, now Red Lobster. Building later expanded to include Chipotle, Cold Stone Creamery, and Applebee's
Altamonte SpringsFL499 E. Altamonte DriveOpened November 1992. Re-opened as Bahama Breeze in 1997. (Thanks Mike M.!)
Fort Walton BeachFL309 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SWOpened June 1994. Now Ocean Buffet
LakelandFL3706 North DriveOpened October 1993. Now Red Lobster.
MelbourneFL2355 West New Haven AvenueOpened March 1994. Now Red Lobster.
OrlandoFL7500 International DriveFirst location; now a restaurant called "Game Changers".
OrlandoFL7373 West Colonial DriveOpened August 1992. Now Red Lobster.
OrlandoFL3552 E Colonial DriveOpened February 1994. Now Red Lobster.
OrlandoFL8003 Golden Sky LaneOpened July 1994. Now Red Lobster.
Port RicheyFL8909 US-19Opened June 1994. Now Red Lobster.
Winter HavenFL230 Cypress Gardens Blvd.Opened October 1994. Now Red Lobster
Winter ParkFL335 N. Semoran BlvdOpened May 1994. Demolished by 1999 for adjacent car dealership expansion.
DuluthGA1590 Pleasant Hill RoadOpened August 1994. Now The Krab Hut.
KenneshawGA790 Cobb Pl Blvd NWOpened August 1994. Now On The Border.
IndianapolisIN7303 US Hwy. 31Opened March 1994. Later Joe's Crab Shack (since closed).
IndianapolisIN852 Signature DriveOpened April 1993, site redeveloped into Costco and smaller shops (along with other restaurants in the area, possibly other General Mills concepts)
IndianapolisIN5090 West 38th StreetOpened April 1993, now Red Lobster.
St. MatthewsKY986 Breckenridge LaneOpened July 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.
Cuyahoga FallsOH420 Howe AvenueOpened February 1994, later Joe's Crab Shack. Demolished in 2007 for Chick-fil-A.
DaytonOH7580 Poe AvenueOpened February 1994, now Shen's Szechuan & Sushi
Oklahoma CityOK2701 West Memorial RoadOpened February 1995, only restaurant in state. Later Baker Street Pub & Grill, appears to have kept most of original exterior décor.
NashvilleTN1919 Gallatin PikeOpened January 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.
ArlingtonTX2390 E. Lamar Blvd.Opened in December 1994. Now Take a Bao.
ArlingtonTX1109 W. Interstate 20Opened Febrauary 1995. Last operated as Texicana Grill. Torn down in 2008 for a strip mall.
Corpus ChristiTX5217 South Padre Island DriveOpened March 1995. Reopened as TGI Fridays in 1997
DallasTX9069 Vantage Point DriveOpened in 1993. Now Red Lobster
DallasTX10290 Technology Blvd. E.Opened in 1995. Now Red Lobster (temporarily closed due to a fire)
El PasoTX8401 Gateway Blvd. WestOpened in July 1994, reopened as Red Lobster by 1997
El PasoTX800 Sunland Park DriveOpened in August 1994. Reopened as Red Lobster in 1996
Fort WorthTX4840 SW Loop 820Opened in April 1994. Last operated as Chef Chen Buffet & Bar. Torn down in 2017 for DXL Big + Tall
HoustonTX302 FM 1960 WestNow Red Lobster (opened '94 as China Coast).
HoustonTX2760 Highway 6Opened after 1993 unlike other two Houston stores. Now Red Lobster.
HoustonTX13232 Northwest FreewayNow Red Lobster (opened '94 as China Coast).
IrvingTX4205 W. Airport FreewayOpened 1995. Now Red Lobster
LewisvilleTX2497 S. Stemmons Fwy.Opened in 1994. Now Red Lobster
McAllenTX711 E Expressway 83Opened in July 1994. Last operated as Joe's Crab Shack (closed and demolished in 2017 for Rio Bank Tower)
MesquiteTX4000 Towne Crossing Blvd.Opened in 1993. Now Posados Cafe
North Richland HillsTX7536 Boulevard 26Opened in July 1994. Now Takara Japanese Steakhouse
PlanoTX5012 West Park Blvd.Opened in 1994, later Osaka Sushi (since closed)
Texas CityTX10510 Emmett Lowry ExpresswayOpened December 1993, closed August 1995. Later spent some time as China One Restaurant (2002) and reportedly even a martial arts studio before being Beyond Burger.
WacoTX5925 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.



Unopened Restaurants
CityStateAddressNotes
AlbanyNY170 Wolf RoadNever opened, became Red Lobster in 1998
Altamonte SpringsFL340 W. State Rd 436Never opened, became Red Lobster in 1998
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.
LargoFLUlmerton Rd. and 101st St.Never built
BloomingdaleILArmy Trail RoadNever built, site redeveloped into a bank
YorkPAKenneth Road and Route 30Never built

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