The 16-foot-tall fiberglass lobster stands watch over Route 1 traffic, claws raised in the air and holding a sign for the restaurant located behind it.
Her name is Muriel, and she serves as the official welcome to Carrier’s Mainely Lobster, which opened its doors to customers in 2010. BJ Carrier made the decision to open the restaurant with his wife, Tory, after he had spent 16 years working in the fishing industry.
Carrier knows the business of lobster fishing firsthand, as he lobsters offshore in his offseason (Carrier’s is open from April through the end of September) on a boat out of Stonington. He also works with local contractor Mike Osborne building custom homes.
Carrier’s Mainely Lobster is located at 10 State Route 46 (also known as the Duck Cove Road) in Bucksport, just off of Route 1. It is located next to Carrier’s childhood home, and is housed in a building that was once a garage but has since been expanded and modified for use as a restaurant.
Carrier said his focus is on giving customers fresh, quality food at a reasonable price in a comfortable setting. As a result of his previous career and his work lobstering, he knows a thing or two about seafood and has the connections to get quality product quickly.
“Everything is direct — it’s all direct from the boat to here,” he said. “There’s no middleman in between our products.”
Lobsters are kept live in tanks filled with 40-degree salt water that is trucked in from the source rather than made on site. And although the clawed crustaceans are obviously a focal point, clams, scallops, crabmeat and haddock also are offered, as well as burgers, onion rings and more.
A common theme throughout, Carrier said, is freshness. Onion rings, for example, are cut and breaded at the time the customer orders them, not cut hours or days ahead of time and then kept refrigerated. And whether it’s the onion rings or a chicken sandwich, Carrier said everything is hand-breaded.
Carrier’s offers an all-you-can-eat, fresh haddock special on Friday nights where the haddock burger is consistently a customer favorite.
Preparing quality food also takes a quality staff, and Carrier has 23 young people working for him this year. They come from as close as Bucksport and as far as Brewer, and from Ellsworth, Hampden and Searsport as well.
Some are veteran employees, such as Shelby Redman and Rachele Daley. Both of the young women started out at Carrier’s when it opened seven years ago when they were high school students and are still working there now as they complete their college careers.
“Having good employees is they key to a successful business,” said Carrier. He said some customers are known to come in three, four or five times a week and that their visit is just as much about socializing with the staff as it is about the food.
Where one eats the food is up to the customer and can also depend on the weather. There are outdoor tables (including two lobster-shaped chairs) as well as plenty of indoor seating. There’s an intercom system to announce orders when it gets busy, but often a staff member will bring it over to customers if they are seated inside.
For dessert, there is Gifford’s Ice Cream from the famed Skowhegan-based company.
“We sell Maine products whenever possible,” Carrier said.
As visitors leave Carrier’s after a satisfying meal, they might be interested to know a bit of history about Muriel’s as the smiling lobster watches them drive away.
She is the creation of a local artist who lives in Penobscot. When she came to Carrier’s in 2016, Carrier asked his 23 employees to suggest names that were then whittled down to four finalists and voted on.
Muriel was the winner, but by coincidence it also is the name of Carrier’s maternal grandmother.
Carrier’s Mainely Lobster
Where: 10 State Route 46, Bucksport
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. until school closes (expected June 15 this year), then open until 9 p.m., seven days a week. Carrier’s closes for the season at the end of September.