A toasted split-top roll. Lobster meat. Lemon butter. Celery salt. A smear of mayonnaise. Pickle on the side.
Simple — those are the ingredients to a Mason’s Famous lobster roll, from Rehoboth’s newest restaurant.
The sandwich shack’s goal is to remain true to the lobster rolls found in New England, said Dan Beck, president of Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls.
“We like to stick with the original lobster roll, the way it was served on shacks on the side of the road,” he said. “There are different forms now — people put it on focaccia bread and serve it with arugula, and it kind of loses its original feeling of iconic American road food.”
BACKGROUND: Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls coming to Rehoboth
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls’ newest location is capitalizing on what Beck sees is a growing interest in lobster rolls across the nation — a trend, he hopes, that will introduce America to why lobster rolls are so popular in New England.
According to information provided by the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, the demand for lobster has steadily increased — 38 percent from 2005-2006 to 2015-2016.
In 2016, Maine lobstermen harvested nearly 131 million pounds of lobster for a value of $547.2 million.
The group said this represents the seventh consecutive year of growth in the industry and surpassed the 2015 total by $30 million.
“Between a growing desire for sustainable food in the U.S. and the rising trend of food trucks and lobster dishes, demand has been increasing for lobster,” said Matt Jacobson, executive director for the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. “This higher demand has sparked a call for more lobster rolls due to the fact that they’re a trendy food and are viewed as an affordable luxury.”
Rehoboth, for Beck, was a good market in which his restaurant could expand.
After coming to the seaside city with his family, Beck said he saw the potential in Rehoboth Beach.
“Rehoboth is upscale, and it has a really good crowd,” he said. “We like the fact the shoulder seasons seem to be longer here. We thought this would be suited to us. We received a lot of good press in the D.C. area and a lot of folks from D.C. travel out here, and we thought it would be a good spot for us.”
The lobster is shipped from Maine every night, Beck said, after it is steamed and picked in Prospect Harbor, Maine, and flown down from Boston to Jessup, Maryland, overnight.
It’s the fresh lobster meat that makes the difference, said Yurri Fedorid, who operates the Rehoboth Beach location with his wife, Jasmine.
He carefully selects the lobster meat that goes on each roll, and he makes sure each roll is made authentically.
“We use 3 ounces for each roll,” he said. “It’s fresh lobster meat. It’s not mixed with anything.”
Russ Simonds of Rehoboth Beach recognized the authenticity of the eatery’s offerings.
“It was good,” he said. “I don’t like mayonnaise and stuff, and this is like the traditional lobster roll.”
It’s $14 for a classic lobster roll — the one with 3 ounces of meat. Side and a drink costs $2 extra.
In addition to lobster rolls, Mason’s Famous also serves other classic New England fare, including lobster bisque and New England clam chowder. It also serves a shrimp roll along with several varieties of the lobster roll, including a BLT lobster roll and a lobster salad roll.
Because of the Rehoboth location’s success so far, Beck said he is looking forward to what the summer has in store.
The store in Annapolis barely outperformed the Rehoboth location’s opening weekend — and the Annapolis location has been open since 2014, he said.
“We are looking forward to doing some serious volume,” Beck said. “The windows out front open all the way up, and it will look just like the lobster shacks in Maine. We are definitely looking forward to summer time.”