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Verify: Is this crowded Red Lobster really in St. Louis?

Have you seen this viral photo going around social media? Our Verify team confirmed where it actually was taken

ST. LOUIS — A viral Instagram post that circulated Monday and Tuesday claimed to show a line of people outside a St. Louis area Red Lobster with the caption, "St. Louis was just waiting for that green light to visit the local @redlobster".

The photo was posted as both the city and county 'reopened' this week after businesses were forced to shut down in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

At least 1,600 people 'liked' the photo posted by the Saint Louis Events Instagram account and hundreds more weighed-in with comments — with many comments pointing out not many people in the photo can be seen wearing a mask and taking issue with the surge of people. 

But, the 5 On Your Side Verify Team has learned, the photo was actually taken about 1,800 miles to the west of St. Louis and nine days before the post claimed.

Research showed the image was apparently first posted by a Twitter account on May 10, which was Mother's Day, outside a Red Lobster in La Mesa, California.

Using Google's Street View, the front of the La Mesa restaurant appears to match the photo in the post claiming to be in St. Louis. 

Credit: Left: Google; Right: Twitter
Left: Google Street View shows the Red Lobster location in California. Right: A viral photo first shared on Twitter and spread to Instagram, claims to show a Red Lobster in St. Louis.

A group of St. Louis area moms were some of the first to take issue with the post. They took it upon themselves to track down its actual source.

"It was presenting St. Louis in a poor light to create controversy, and it's just not necessary right now," said Lisa Voges, who — along with two other friends —determined the picture could not be local after looking at every Red Lobster in the St. Louis area on Google Street View. 

5 On Your Side reached out to the @saintlouisevents Instagram account about the origins of the post but so far, no reply. The image was still on the account's page when we first published this story but has since been removed.

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