The Red Hook Lobster Pound was born out of an idea to bring sustainable Maine lobster to New Yorkers. Susan and Ralph were inspired by this idea a few years ago while devouring fresh lobster that they had just brought back with them from Maine. The first storefront in Brooklyn was a hit. Demand has kept the business growing in many directions including lobster food trucks. Wanting to keep the business in the family, Susan asked her cousin Doug if he would be interested in a partnership with some lobster food trucks in the Washington area. That is how a DC lawyer began a new passion for childhood food memories, tweets and perhaps a small dose of added daily stress.
I had the chance to meet Doug and hang around while the two LobsterFoodTruckDC vehicles were loaded for their daily spin around the streets of Washington, DC. A little unknown fact about the trucks is that they are run on bio-fuel…kuddos for reusing!
At 8am, the prep begins in a kitchen on the outskirts of DC. Fresh Maine lobster is cooked and delivered three times a week. Susan, a Cordon Bleu graduate also sends along her two special sauces for both the lobster rolls and the shrimp rolls. In case you do not know (which I did not) there are two possible types of lobster rolls. The Maine roll is served with large chunks of lobster mixed in a homemade lemon mayonnaise with small pieces of celery on a bed of lettuce in a toasted Maine bun.
The Connecticut roll is down right decadent with the lobster meat being poached in butter and served warm, in the same fashion as its Maine counterpart. The third choice is a shrimp roll, which is made with Maine sweet shrimp and a homemade tarragon mayonnaise. Next to all three rolls there is a large pickle, a Maine must for authenticity!
All the fish is fresh-catch so it goes directly from the boats to the consumer without having to sit around in pounds or cordoned-off coves. “Breeders”, the larger than 2 pound critters, are also not touched so the Red Hook Lobster pound supports ecologically sound fishing methods.
Once all of the fillings, buns and drinks are loaded on the trucks for the day, the two trucks head off to their pre-determined locations in the downtown district.
As a little aside, Doug Tweets at least 5 times a day with the locations for the day, when they are leaving, when they are arriving, when they are about to close, a thank you and where they will be the following day! Check out his tweets @LobstertruckDC.
Wondering how they find a place to park? Well, a member of the truck staff is sent ahead to snag a parking place for the truck. I asked Amanda, a young, high energy lawyer who also works for the LobstertruckDC if her technique was a secret but she said that it really depended on the location! A key to the flow of the operation is that everyone sticks to their job and that money is put into the meter…..those city meter enforcement officers can be wicked and have no problem handing out tickets. Have they not heard of the expression “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”!
Within ten minutes of arriving at our location, the truck awning was up, the cashier was in place (Amanda)
with mic in hand explaining the different rolls and where the queue must go.
The buns were grilling, lobster meat was poaching and the Maine Root beverages, homemade lemonade and ice tea were cool and ready to be poured into 100% biodegradable cups.
I was the first to put in my order. The people behind me had tried to order lobster rolls for over a month but the queue was always too long so they were thrilled to be second in line.
Once we had inhaled our rolls on the side of the road, I turned to my two new friends and asked them if it was worth it. Words were not necessary as their level of intense gratitude was painted all over their faces and their lobster stained shirts.