Boothbay Lobster Wharf under new ownership
Tom Philbrick knows lobsters. His wife, Susan Philbrick, has managed restaurants. As the new owners of the Boothbay Lobster Wharf on Atlantic Avenue they hope to carry on traditions begun by the lobstermen themselves.
Tom Philbrick sees no great changes in the business that began as the Lobstermen’s Co-op and has been run privately in recent years by Kim and Todd Simmons.
“We are really not changing anything. So many people identify with this place. It is generational,” said Tom Philbrick from his office above the kitchen where patrons will stand in line on and after Memorial Day weekend to pick up orders of lobster rolls and french fries. Another shed processes steamed lobsters supplied by many of the same lobstermen who established the co-op.
“It is such a community place,” said Philbrick.
Philbrick formerly owned and operated the Ship to Shore Lobster Co. in Owls Head. Susan Philbrick worked at Mike’s Sport Pub & Grub in Rangeley and managed the restaurant at Bald Mountain Camps in Oquossoc. She and her son Matt Crupi have worked at the Lobster Wharf previously.
The Phibricks have deep roots in the Rangeley area. He has been the assistant principal at the K-12 Rangeley Lakes Community School and was the assistant girls basketball coach last year. In high school, he was on a state championship basketball team in Orono. He has coached basketball in Rockland and Mt. Blue High School. The family still owns a house in Rangeley. When the Rangeley school system eliminated his position due to decreasing enrollments, he decided to reenter the business world. His daughter, Celia, will graduate in Rangeley from a class of 14 students, he said.
Back in Boothbay Harbor, the Philbricks will expand operations and open a marine supply store in an adjacent building above the lobster tank room.
The Philbricks credit Steve Brooks of Brooks Trap Mill of Thomaston with helping them organize and stock the new store, which will carry a line of marine supplies from pot buoys to rubber boots. Boothbay Marine Supplies will be the only local marine store in the immediate area, he said.
Local lobstermen will continue to supply the restaurant with lobsters as in the past.
As the Philbricks work to spruce up the buildings and repair signs (the street sign was hit by a truck this winter), lobster traps are being removed from the decks where they have been stored in the winter, again through tradition.
Another tradition was formed by Tom’s father, Gib, who owned the schooner National Bowditch, which he used to sail into Boothbay Harbor on Windjammer Days.
According to Philbrick, his father is still going strong at 88, although he no longer is the schooner’s owner.
The Philbricks do not own a house in Boothbay Harbor and plan to reside on their 41-foot sailboat along with Susan’s mother, Dorothy.
“She dances every dance,” said Philbrick of his mother-in-law, who is well into her nineties. The restaurant will continue to feature musical groups, including the local Murky Waters Band.
“We already have booked a lot of dates,” said Philbrick.
Although the restaurant will not open to the public until Memorial Day weekend, the Knights of Pythias will hold their annual dinner at the restaurant on May 21.