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Huge Scuttlebutt: Luke’s Lobster Shack Coming to Penn Quarter

by Prince Of Petworth April 4, 2011 at 10:52 pm 23 Comments

A very very good source tells me that Luke’s Lobster Shack is coming to Penn Quarter (and build out has already begun) at 622 E St, NW (near the Starbucks and Tangy Sweet on 7th St, NW). Luke’s currently has 4 locations in New York City and this will be their first outpost in DC. Their Web site says:

It doesn’t take a master chef to make a great lobster roll; it takes great lobster. Luke Holden knows where to get the best stuff around . . .

Holden, 26, was born and raised in Cape Elizabeth, a small town on the coast of Maine. He grew up lobstering, built his own skiff, and launched a lobster company while still in high school. When Luke moved to New York to work in finance, he was dismayed to see lobster rolls—drowning in mayo and diluted with celery—priced anywhere from $20 to $30. So he called his dad Jeff, who owns a seafood processing company in Maine. The father-son duo has built longstanding relationships with lobstermen, which earns them access to Maine’s best catch. They were on to something . . . something big.

On foggy mornings off Vinalhaven, burly lobstermen in bright yellow Grundens haul traps from the open seas, and they’re taken from the dock to Luke’s family seafood business. In just hours, the frisky pinchers are steamed, picked, and individually wrapped before they’re sent south to Luke’s Lobster. Each plastic bag contains a quarter-pound of pure, unadulterated lobster meat from 5 or 6 unlucky lobster claws (yep, it takes that many lobsters for each roll!). The lobster meat is sealed in these air-tight bags to lock in that fresh-from-the-ocean taste and to prevent contamination. Throughout the 315-mile trek from Maine to Manhattan, the lobster meat remains in pristine condition, having last touched Maine air. The result is a deliciously fresh lobster roll that allows you to truly taste Maine at its best. Luke just wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when you walk up to the shingled counter at Luke’s and admire the buoys and traps, remember the lobster tale and remember the lobstermen. And when you walk away, remember the taste of Maine. Although we doubt you’ll ever forget it.

You can see their NYC menus here.

This is going to be huge! I have a 92.7% confidence in this scuttlebutt.

Anyone ever check out one of their New York spots?

  • AC

    Their NYC joint in East Village is huge success and constant huge lines to get to the rolls – which are, by the way, super delicious!

  • Angry Parakeet

    I’m glad the lobstermen are “burly!” I would hate for them to be “scrawny.”

  • PG

    Are lobster rolls the new cupcakes?

  • rooty tooty

    the journey from Maine to DC tacks on about another 230 miles to that 315. I wonder how they ship it?

    • Ben

      Fedex does wonders and in fact regularly ships live lobsters.

  • Geezer

    Cupcakes have a much smaller carbon footprint.

  • hector

    LOBSTER WARS!!!! Who will be left standing Lobster Pound Truck-vs-Luke.

    I would put my money on brick & mortar. Trucks are only open 5 days a week no dinner no weekend boooooooooooo.


  • Formerly of Capitol Hill

    So I guess everyone will suddenly forget their smug “concern” for local, sustainable, curated, etc. now that they can have a lobster roll.

    • Anonymous

      Potomac lobster just doesn’t have the same flavor or vibrant texture as Maine lobster.

  • Trueblue

    I’m so sorry for all those lobster that I’ll be eating, but I just can’t resist. Bye bye veganism.

    • L

      Me too. Yes, please! Sorry lobsters, I’ll let you have my first born, in a bun.

  • Kustie the Klown

    Will it be as big a trainwreck as that other recent NYC transplant in Penn Quarter, Hill Country?

    OTOH, i like the lobster truck guys but won’t patronize them again until they figure out how to manage their queues more efficiency.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      what’s the word on Hill Country?

      • jt$

        Hill country rules, I’ve been 3 times already and will be back for my 4th on saturday. I’m trying hard not to burn out on it too soon, but it is very tasty, moist brisket, jalapeno cheddar sausage, sweet potato hash with Shiner Blonde. It hits the spot!

        Why don’t you don’t like it, Kustie?

  • Kustie the Klown

    I covered Hill Country’s shortcomings in my yelp review.


    Bottom line, it was one of the top 5 worst eating experiences of my life. They are basically running a fraud over there. The customer feedback seems to be a 50/50 split between “onto their scam” and “i’m a rube”.

  • Kustie the Klown

    BBQ is not supposed to be expensive. It is exceedingly cheap food in general (compared to other styles/etc.).

    Hill Country is basically price gouging, with a smidgen of bait and switch thrown in. The bouncer at the door, to (i presume) rough you up if you try to leave is the dead giveaway, among many others.

    Don’t believe the hype. They aren’t going to get enough repeat business to stay open.

    • jt$

      Sorry you didn’t like it, I’m a huge fan. It’s not perfect and it can get pricey but I think it’s worth it and once you get the hang of the process which is quite different from most restaurants, I don’t find it burdensome or annoying. Although it is a theme I feel like the place has real personality and is unique among downtown eateries, something that I score extra points for. It sounds like you’re not going to try it again but I would if I was you. Order a combo. Anything’s better than Capitol Q.

  • Kustie the Klown

    No thanks on going back to Hill Country. Once was more than enough.

    My operating theory on that place is that they’ve jacked up the prices to paper over the fact that ownership and management don’t know how to run a restaurant, and drive so much repeat business away.

    Hill Country works in NYC because they have 10 times the customer base we have (including both locals and tourists) in essesntially the same sized restaurant space. I suspect that here, where the margin for error is an order of magnitude smaller, they will fail.

    Just look at the reviews on Yelp. Half the people seem to leave not just dissatisfied, but angry! That’s bad mojo in the restaurant industry, and a clear indication that Hill Country is doing something VERY wrong.

    Enjoy it though, if that’s your thing. For every scam there has to be a willing mark.

  • jt$

    I sympathize, I had an experience at Legal Seafoods 5 years ago and I’ve never been back but still, all that hates gonna burn you up.

  • Kustie the Klown

    You are correct. I hate being scammed and will direct my dollars elsewhere. There are plenty of other places to eat.

    Funny thing about those other places–they’ve all managed to stay in operation without herding their customers thru 10 different lines and charging a 300% markup over normal, rational pricing.

    Is it all those other restaurants who have it right? Or is it Hill Country who has it right? I’ll stick with the former.

  • Kustie the Klown

    If anyone out there would like to see what a RATIONAL pricing structure would be for a top quality Texas style barbecue meal, i direct you to the menu for Sonny Bryan’s which is one of the more legendary purveyors of BBQ in the Dallas area. TSonny Bryan’s has a cafeteria-style ordering process but a nice, sit-down space in which to eat. Plus, their Texas bric-a-brac on the wall is authentic.


    My meal at Hill Country cost about the same as the “Family Meal #2” at Sonny Bryan’s, which is advertised as enough food to feed 6 people.

    And tastewise, Hill Country wasn’t nearly as good.

    Nuff said.

  • hoya2

    Luke’s a Hoya, so he’s got some great local roots. Will be a terrific addition to DC food scene.

  • It takes 4-5 lobster claws to make ONE lobster roll? That’s two and a half lobsters to make a “great” eating experience for someone with more money than common sense. Don’t get it. I’ve always hated those Red Lobster ads on TV–“All the shrimp you can eat!” Until they’re gone.


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