Residents no longer need to leave Fairfield County to experience the delight of a “wicked fresh” Maine lobster. A trio of entrepreneurs has devised a way to deliver seafood from the waters of Maine directly to Stamford with no middleman.
Boothbay Lobster Co. recently opened its doors as the first tenants in the 2,500-square-foot space on the ground floor at 14 Harbor Point Road, part of the 100-acre Harbor Point development in Stamford.
“It’s sort of your typical Maine seafood shack,” said William Craig, one of the restaurant’s owners.
At Boothbay Lobster, customers are able to buy whole lobsters caught within 48 hours from the Boothbay Harbor region of Maine.
“The water is really cold and really rocky in the Boothbay region, which is great for lobster,” William said.
The restaurant buys their lobster directly from the Boothbay Harbor lobstermen who catch them, and those lobster never see the inside of a holding tank. The lobster, along with other seafood sourced from across the state of Maine, are transported directly from Boothbay Lobster’s commissary kitchen in Portland to the Stamford restaurant in a refrigerated van owned by the company.
“Our whole concept has been delivering freshness and really taking control of every aspect of the process,” William said, “and being able to run the truck when it makes sense for us and not necessarily being held hostage (to an outside company).”
For the owners, that concept relies on “being able to make sure that we really have control of the product, from farm to table or sea to stomach, whatever you want to call it.”
The van makes the five-hour trip from Portland to Stamford six days per week to ensure all food served at Boothbay Lobster meets the company’s “wicked fresh” standards.
“We tell people we’re a half restaurant, half logistics company, because really our product is freshness, and it’s our logistics network that delivers that,” William said.
Boothbay Lobster is the realization of a dream shared by William’s father, George Craig, and David Galin. Friends since college, George and Galin shared a passion for Maine and its culinary offerings. George and William spent summers at their family’s beach home in Boothbay Harbor and Galin has lived in Portland for more than two decades. Prior to the venture, Craig lived in Ridgefield and worked as a government bond trader, while Galin worked as the chief academic officer for Portland public schools.
Galin said he and George have always talked about opening a restaurant together, but it was a fishing trip on Boothbay Harbor that spurred the idea for what would later become Boothbay Lobster Co. After watching lobstermen pull their catches from the water, the duo began discussing the higher quality of seafood served in Maine than that served in George’s home in Connecticut. The pair began writing up plans on paper and soon developed the idea of owning their own processors in Maine, along with refrigerated transportation and a Connecticut restaurant.
“We didn’t want to be in the lobster wholesale business, but we both really loved Stamford for the demographic, the proximity to population centers and that we can get down and back in the same day from Maine,” said Galin, who worked in the restaurant industry for years prior to embarking on his career in education.
Twenty-two-year-old William joined the venture soon after graduating from Vanderbilt in May 2015 with a degree in economics and corporate strategy.
“I definitely wanted to go the entrepreneurship route for sure, but I didn’t necessarily think I’d be in the lobster business,” he said.
Both Galin and George now live in Maine, handling the sourcing and logistics of the business, while William lives in Stamford and sees to the restaurant.
Before opening Boothbay Lobster’s brick-and-mortar doors, the trio ran a food truck across Fairfield County that offered a select few of their current menu’s offerings.
“We kind of just wanted a proof of concept to see if people were in fact interested and if wicked fresh really was the most important thing to people buying lobster,” William said of the food truck. “In addition to being its own business, it’s a great marketing tool for this place.”
The entrepreneurs saw the potential of opening their restaurant in the south end of Stamford, specifically within the transit-oriented Harbor Point development.
“We love the newness and the growth potential,” Galin said of Harbor Point.
“It’s right on the water. You can see the (Long Island) Sound,” William said. “It kind of has that seaside feel to it.”
Along with offering an extensive wine list “with some pretty geeky wines,” William said the restaurant also offers a number of Maine-brewed beers to pair with its whole lobster and sandwich fare. Offering a somewhat limited menu designed by Galin, the restaurant also features a raw bar with oysters, clams and crudo. The menu will soon rotate seasonally based on what the owners are able to source.
“A lot of people get frustrated if you don’t have (certain foods),” William said. “It sucks to be like, ‘No sorry, we don’t have it,’ but it’s great because we don’t have it because we only source from certain people and source the best we can get. If we can’t get the best, we don’t serve it.”