EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – It was a summer institution on the Branford waterfront, but now the famous Lobster Shack has changed zip codes and is opening soon on the beach in East Haven.
There is still work to be done, but you can already tell the new Lobster Shack is no shack at all.
“I’m nervous,” admitted owner Arlene Crismale. “I’m very nervous, because this is a whole new thing. It’s inside.”
Nick Crismale spent years as a lobsterman. He and his wife Arlene started selling lobster rolls outdoors on his Branford dock.
“So I would come in, bring the lobsters in, cook them, pick the meat, and it was always fresh,” Nick said.
Then they started parking a trailer in the Birbarie Boatyard. The name came from a man waiting in line, talking on his phone.
“And I heard him say, ‘How many lobster rolls do you want? I’m here at the shack,'” Arlene remembered. “So when he came up to the window, I said, ‘Did you just call me the Shack?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, everyone calls you the shack’ And I said, ‘OK, you just named my place.'”
The Lobster Shack made national lists for best lobster rolls, and as word spread, it became too popular for the crowded boatyard. They went looking for another venue, and the former Beachhead Restaurant in the Cosey Beach section of East Haven was empty.
Moving was complicated by disputes over who owned part of the property. No one had paid taxes on it for decades, but that’s all getting worked out now. The other concern is that Cosey Beach and the Beachhead were hit hard by both Irene and Sandy.
“If it happens it happens,” said Nick. “It’s just another thing dealing with the water. Storms and boats boats ad buildings.”
The Crismales have renovated the building with waterproof flooring and plastic in the walls. The concept for the food remains simple.
“Order your food, take it wherever you want to sit,” Arlene said. “I want it to have that same feel.”
Only now you can sit in air conditioning, with great views of Long Island Sound. They are keeping their famous half pound lobster roll, the Whaler, and they hope people will follow them to their new spot.
“If you’re well received and the people enjoy what they’re having, they will come back and that seems to have worked for us,” Nick said.
They would not nail down an exact date for their opening, but say it will probably be next week. they will let people know on their Facebook page.