Lucky Red's has deep roots in local lobster fishing industry
Belfast — Longtime local lobsterman David Black has a straightforward description of the new retail side of the business he, his wife, Mary, and daughter, Jenna, have recently opened where Route 1 becomes Northport Avenue in Belfast.
"I catch 'em, she sells 'em," said David of his work with his daughter at Lucky Red's Lobster Shack.
And the Blacks say no family business would be complete without the occasional assistance from the dog, which, in the case of Lucky Red's, is the family's golden retriever, Lola, who routinely greets incoming customers.
Jenna is a junior at Maine Maritime Academy, where she is studying marine biology, a subject that appears to be a good fit for a young woman who grew up around the lobster fishing industry.
David is no stranger to the lobster business, either, having spent nearly 50 years fishing in Penobscot Bay.
So when Jenna was considering how best to spend her summer away from school late last year, it didn't take long for the Black family to arrive at a plan to open the shack and create a retail outlet for the shellfish her father traps.
"I take care of the lobsters, and I make sure the water's cold enough," said Jenna, noting that the water temperature in the holding tank at the shack typically hovers around 40 degrees — just the way the lobsters like it.
Jenna said that in the four weeks since Lucky Red's opened, business has been "a lot better than expected." The Blacks have seen repeat business from locals and visitors alike, and Jenna said she enjoys using her marine biology background to educate the customers who are curious about Maine's best-known crustacean.
"People will come in and ask what the difference is between the hard-shelled and soft-shelled [lobsters]," said Jenna.
Jenna said lobsters grow when they cast off their smaller, hard shells, which are replaced by a larger, softer shell that the lobster doesn't quite fill out at the time of the molting. The lobster, sporting its thinner shell, will "puff itself up" with water to fill out the new shell until it grows enough to fit into its new exoskeleton.
"It's always great to answer the questions people have about the industry," said Jenna.
For David, being on the water for almost five decades has yet to take away from the joy he still experiences when watching the lobsters as they move around the holding tank at the shack.
"I was out here at 2 o'clock in the morning watching these guys crawl around; I just don't get tired of it," he said.
Jenna said she also likes to share unique recipes that call for lobster, including her own lobster ravioli.
David said there are many ways to eat a lobster, but his personal favorite is perhaps the most traditional — boiled and buttered with a side of corn on the cob, a meal he said can be cooked and served in less than 20 minutes.
"Lobster's a good fast food," said David.
The name of the business itself comes from Jenna's own experiences fishing with her father.
"He calls me his lucky charm," said Jenna, who displays the four-leaf clover she found in Belfast one day on the sales counter next to the register.
The counter also includes photos of various places that are dear to the family — a photo of Jenna on her dad's boat as a youth, images of Belfast and Castine, and pictures from Jenna's recent trip to Ireland.
David said hours of operation are Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6 p.m.
David then added with a grin, "and Thursdays, if you're lucky."