An announcement is expected in the next few days about a new chain restaurant coming to the Wausau area.
This has sparked a lot of speculation, particularly about a Red Lobster.
Sandra Mach, who works at a jewelry store in downtown Wausau, would love to see that restaurant locate here. She drives to Eau Claire each Tuesday to visit family, and she eats lunch at Red Lobster when she's there.
Central Wisconsin has no red lobster.
"I think a Red Lobster would fit perfectly into the city of Wausau," said Mach.
Enthusiasm about Red Lobster in this area is strong. On our Newsline 9 Facebook page, we asked people which chain restaurants they'd like to see here. One of the most frequent responses—Red Lobster.
The company that owns Red Lobster also owns Olive Garden. We have one here in Rib Mountain. So is Red Lobster also on the way?
According to Heidi Schauer, spokeswoman for Darden Restaurants, Red Lobster's parent company, "there are no plans to build a Red Lobster in Wausau at this time."
She didn't elaborate, but she referred Newsline 9 to the criteria for Red Lobster to select a site. One of those criteria says an area must have a population of at least 125,000 people.
The Wausau metro area has "just a little under 75,000," said Jeff Zriny, Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce president & CEO. "Some retailers require a larger footprint than that."
Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple says he's received some insight as to why else Red Lobster may not be rushing to build here.
"Wisconsin has fish fries, and there's 52 fish fries that are taking out of their business plan potentially," said Tipple.
So for now, Sandra Mach will have to keep making that drive to Eau Claire. It looks like Red Lobster won't be here anytime soon.
Tuesday night at 10:00, we'll take a closer look at other chains that have moved here recently and why developers say this could spark a new wave to our area.