When Quoddy Bay Lobster co-owner Sara Griffin is asked what makes their lobster rolls so good, she’ll tell you customers are served a plain top-split bun. Her husband and high school sweetheart Brent adds that the toasted rolls are loaded with prime meat from the tail and body of freshly caught lobsters unloaded daily right on the Griffin family’s wharf.
The Griffins don’t like patrons to leave hungry from their seafood takeout and fish market overlooking Eastport Harbor.
Yankee Magazine awarded Quoddy Bay Lobster its 2016 Editor’s Choice Best Lobster-Roll Experience award for its lobster rolls, slathered with Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Miracle Whip or melted butter —and topped with a full lobster claw and served with a side of coleslaw. The lobster rolls come in junior, quarter-pound (regular) and half-pound jumbo sizes. The latter is topped with two big claws.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the three-generation takeout’s lobster is harvested by Brent, his father Dale and uncles Jeff and Mike in their respective fishing boats. The food operation is run by Sara, and her mother-in-law, Shelly.
The easternmost city in the nation, Eastport is the first U.S. city to see the sunrise. The early mornings enable Maine’s lobster fleet to get a jump on the day, heading out before first light, to haul their traps in the clear cold waters of Cobscook Bay.
From Eastport, Canada’s Campobello Island looms across the bay where strong currents drive in and flush out a large volume of cold sea water twice daily. The tidal surge produces cold, nutrient-rich waters ideal for lobsters.
Over the years, the Griffins have expanded their operation to include a 400-crate tank and the takeout with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s an all-hands-on-deck endeavor in which family members, cousins and friends pick and cook 100 to 150 pounds of lobster per day during the summer.
Brent runs the 48-foot Triple Trouble named for the number of children he had at the time the boat was launched. His father Mike captains the Terryn Paige while uncles Dale and Jeff operate the Double Trouble and Bay Boys, respectively. They also purchase the catch of a few other fishermen.
A decade ago, the Griffins opened the takeout and fish market after tourists kept coming to their pier and asking where they could buy fresh lobster. They never expected it to become such a big success.
“It still surprises us all of the time,” Sara said. “It grew to be something more than we expected it would be. We were thinking just this tiny lunch takeout …,” she recalled. “To think that our little guy [Kyle] was only two, when we first started, is now going to be 11 and almost old enough to start giving us a hand.”
Brent and Sara hope one or more of their four children will want to go fishing and carry on the family business.
Their oldest daughter, Natacha, started helping her father on the boat this year. If she enjoys the work, the 14-year-old may get her own boat and student license. Kyle, Brett, 2, and 5-month-old Jace are still too young to know if they will take up the family
Sara has her hopes.
“It’s the way the family has pretty much always operated,” she said. “We hope [our kids will be a part of the business]. If they want to do something different, that will be an option for them, but when they are young teenagers they are going to be working on the boat or working [at the takeout] and they will see what hard work went into it.”