Lobster, Deck, View. Perry’s Lobster is WOW all the way.
On one side of the road the sun is setting behind the houses, and the view towards the ocean on the other side of Newbury Neck on the Union River Bay, is amazing. Smells of steaming lobster mingle with the salty breeze as the day’s warmth dissipates and the air cools (it hit 90°F/32°C). The backdrop scenery is amongst the finest in Maine from the deck at Perry’s Lobster Shack. Housed in more of a shed than a shack, Perry’s Lobster Shack has sat on this piece of beachfront since the late 1990’s. Perry Long and his family bought the land, started with a wholesale lobster business, and rolled it into a successful summer lobster shack.
Sadly, Perry passed away a couple of years ago. Not wanting to see the business disappear, his family stepped in to take over. As of summer 2017, Seth Cote, Perry’s grandson, owns and manages the family business. Seth grew up working at Perry’s, lobstering and learning about how to run a lobster business. He has started to add his own special touches with updates to the menu, a wider deck for the tables, and swag. A drink cooler rests on a cement slab and is filled with brand name to locally produced drinks. The new hostess stand has elevated “shack” to outdoor restaurant status – sort of.
In/out saltwater keeps the taste fresh at Perry’s Lobster
Gray plastic crates of live lobsters, caught in the early daylight hours are delivered to Perry’s every morning and throughout the day. Most lobster shacks and restaurants place the lobsters in glass, or bathtub-style, recirculating saltwater tanks, but not here. The holding tanks pump constantly with fresh saltwater from the ocean. And instead of circulating within the tank, it comes in one side and flushes out the other. The black hose pumping in runs along the rocks, hence the proof. A white pipe spews a cascading gush out the other side down the rock cliff. Best of all the lobster tastes really fresh.
Seth’s Spin and Memories of Perry
Since taking over, Seth has carried on and updated the legend created by Perry two decades ago. I recall seeing Perry a couple of summer’s ago slinging bags of steamers, mussels and lobsters into boiling pots with eternally billowing steam. One minute Perry was in the window of the shack, and the next hidden in a cloud of hot fog. Seth has secured the spot on which Perry once stood. A red bandana’ed head pops in and out of the steam, and behind the mist is Seth at the helm.
In addition to the shack, Seth offers a catered or catch-your-own dinner boat expedition. In conjunction with Linda Greenlaw (yes, ’tis she, fisherman, boat captain, author, chef), Seth runs pre-designed tours where all food is provided and the boat’s passengers are along for the ride, view and chill time. The catch, cook, eat experience is there for the taking should an alter ego of becoming a lobsterman take hold. Seth suggests the “custom” 4 hour tour, as a means of getting the most out of the experience. Best thing yet, the company is called The Perfect Tour. The tours are geared towards small groups, so get a few friends and fill us in on the details.
More than just lobster
To go to Perry’s you must have a hankering for seafood. Lest you desire to not dig in with bare hands and wear your meal home, there are crab and lobster rolls. Corn is a staple of oceanside dinners. Never quite figured that out other than the corn gets cooked in similar fashion. It is sweet, fresh and on the cob. Rolls are fresh, butter is hot when it arrives at the table, and you can watch the new lobsters being carried up the gangway in their gray crates, as red, hot, steamy ones are set in front of you. Real lobster eaters do not wear bibs.
Walking, talking, how to eat a lobster
These are the life skills a coastal Mainer needs to survive. The lobster training perhaps of greater importance than the other two. Learned or innate, there is an art to doing it. Hard shell is hard shell and the larger the lobster, the stronger the implement needed to crack it open. Three pound lobsters cannot be cracked with the normal nut cracker that is delivered on the platter. It takes the mallet or the cleaver. If you see someone wrapping a claw in paper towels, moving to the far side of the deck, kneel down, raise a mallet and pound down several times, rest assured it is me.
Lobster conservation has paid off
Several generations prior to Seth ever setting foot on a boat, his forbearers had the strength to acknowledge and implement a process of sustaining the lobster industry. Seth praises their efforts and knows that this has allowed him to continue this livelihood. When early signs loomed that the lobster industry would be in peril if precautionary measures where not taken, the lobstermen, who are some of the most territorial of fishermen, banded together to preserve their industry. Small lobsters and breeders (females with eggs) get thrown back. Without them, they will not have a catch going forward.
For now the lobsters are thriving, but reports of the Gulf of Maine being the fastest warming body of water on the planet may thwart the hard-earned sustainability of the lobster industry. Lobsters like cold water, and the warmer the water gets the further out the lobsters go. Ropes tied to lobster traps can only go down so far, so where the industry will be in 25 years, one can only speculate.
Working at a desk is a year round type of job. Being a lobsterman is seasonal. And sitting out on an open deck in Maine, an even shorter time. Perry’s opens in mid-May or early June and goes through the warmer days in October (check their website or facebook – listed below – for actual hours). In the off-season one needs to make a living, and Seth, who has worked since he started high school, scallops in the winter months and fishes for eels in the spring.
Perry is no longer behind the steam cloud in the kitchen of Perry’s Lobster Shack, but I am sure he would be so proud of the legacy he left and the young man who has kept it going. Be sure to go here, it truly epitomizes the Maine that one should get to know.
Walking, talking, how to eat a lobster These are the life skills a coastal Mainer learns. The lobster training perhaps of greater importance than the other two. Learned or innate, there is an art to doing it. Click To Tweet