Celebrities recall working at Red Lobster before becoming famous

It’s a rags-to-riches tail of epic proportions. 

Before “Lovecraft Country” star Jonathan Majors and “Pink Friday” rapper Nicki Minaj amassed superstardom, they spent their formative years serving up seafood to hungry guests at Red Lobster.

“When I was 17, I was homeless, living in my car, working at Red Lobster and Olive Garden,” confessed Majors, 32, during his opening monologue as host of “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend. 

“It’s crazy how many people got their start at Red Lobster. Both Nicki Minaj and Chris Rock worked there,” the actor, who stars in “The Harder They Fall,” added of the popular seafood chain — often praised for plying patrons with bottomless baskets of its cheesy, butter-oozing bread. 

Majors said working as a server at Red Lobster taught him perseverance.
Saturday Night Live

“Now, I don’t know what they’re putting in them cheddar bay biscuits,” he said jokingly, implying the savory baked goods had a hand in former Red Lobster employees making a splash in Hollywood. “But, it’s working.”

Majors went on to emphasize the valuable life lessons he gained while slinging the restaurant’s surf ‘n’ turf specials, saying: “That experience taught me a lot. It taught me that if you work hard and trust the plan, great things can happen.”

But while his tenure with the eatery went swimmingly, other big fish who once punched the clock at Red Lobster couldn’t wait to jump ship. 

Here, check out all the celebs who have worked at the seafood sensation!

Chris Rock

Rock joked that his Red Lobster manager made him work in the restaurant's background due to his crocked teeth.
Rock joked that his Red Lobster manager did not allow him to have a public-facing role at the restaurant due to his crocked teeth.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Years before he sold out stages all over the world, comedian Chris Rock rocked a hair net and rubber gloves as a dishwasher at a Red Lobster location on Queens Boulevard in 1989. 

“I used to scrape shrimp into the garbage can and then load up the dishwasher. That was my real job,” Rock, 56, wisecracked in his 2008 HBO special “Kill the Messenger.”

“I never got a raise, I never got a promotion,” the Brooklyn native continued of his minimum-wage post — a job he took after dropping out of high school in the 10th grade. “They kept me in the back because I had really f–ked-up teeth and they didn’t want people to think that shrimp f–ked up your teeth.”

Rock, who now boasts an estimated net worth of $60 million, said working at Red Lobster used to “kill him.” 

“I wasn’t working my way through school, or in telling jokes, that was my life. 1989, I was scraping shrimp,” he added. “I used to scrape those f–king shrimp, man. It used to kill me. But I’ll tell you, now I have a career. I’ve been blessed.”

Anna Nicole Smith 

Smith quit working as a Red Lobster waitress after she learned she could make up to $1,000 shaking her money-maker at a local gentlemen's club.
Smith quit working as a Red Lobster waitress after she learned she could make up to $1,000 shaking her money-maker at a local gentlemen’s club.
WireImage

The late bombshell model and actress once worked at the Red Lobster restaurant near her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Before rising to fame in the ’90s and early 2000s, Smith, who died of an accidental overdose at age 39 in 2007, struggled to provide for herself and her son Daniel in the late ’80s and sought out jobs at Walmart and Red Lobster, according to New York Magazine.

Smith’s mother, former police officer Virgie Arthur, once recalled scolding her then 19-year-old daughter for ditching her job at Red Lobster to serve up lap dances at a strip club. 

“She said, ‘Momma, I know you don’t understand this but I work at Red Lobster all night long and my back and my feet are killing me,’” Arthur told the Daily Mail in 2017. “‘I can go work at the Executive Suite one night and make $1,000 dollars.’”

Nicki Minaj 

An unremorseful Minaj said she was fired from Red Lobster after chasing down customers who didn't leave her a tip.
An unremorseful Minaj said she was fired from Red Lobster after chasing down customers who didn’t leave her a tip.
AFP via Getty Images

The “Queen” rapper from Queens began her royal reign by serving up king crab platters at several Red Lobster locations across New York City. 

“I have worked at a couple of Red Lobsters and I’ve gotten fired from all three or four of them,” Minaj, 38, told Jimmy Fallon while accompanying the “Tonight Show” host on his first-ever trip to the seafood spot in 2019. The pair pulled up to the Times Square Red Lobster in a pink stretch Hummer limousine. 

The Grammy winner explained that her final firing from the restaurant came after she chased a couple, who’d stolen her pen, into the parking lot for failing to leave her a tip. 

“I walked to the car, I banged on the car window, and I said, ‘Give me my pen!’” Minaj recalled, also admitting that she repeatedly shoved her middle finger in their faces. “My manager fired me on the spot.” 

Edvin Thompson

Model Amelia Rami and designer Edvin Thompson at the 2021 CFDA awards on Nov. 10.
Model Amelia Rami and designer Edvin Thompson at the 2021 CFDA awards on Nov. 10.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Before his fashion line Theophilio earned him the American Emerging Designer of the Year title at this year’s CFDA awards, Jamaican-American fashion designer Edvin Thompson was doling out fish dishes at Red Lobster. 

“Before, I was working at Red Lobster. I’ve been working at Red Lobster for a decade. I’d only have two days out of the week to really create,” Thompson, 27, told the Zoe Report in October. Since he tendered his resignation with the restaurant last year, Thompson has been able to grow his buzzing brand. 

“The [last year] has caused me to be a lot more intentional in how I design clothes, where I design clothes, where I get my fabrications, what I want to talk about.”

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