10 years after it first launched, Luke’s Lobster will open its biggest restaurant yet

The company's first full-service restaurant arrives in Portland on Wednesday.

Lobster platter at Luke's Lobster
The lobster platter at Luke's Lobster. –PIXELLAB

Not that Maine needed another place to snag a lobster roll, but exceptions can be made for the new location of Luke’s Lobster, a 170-seat, two-story restaurant on the Portland Pier in Portland.

The seafood spot, which will soft open for dinner on Wednesday, is a major milestone for the lobster company that first launched in Manhattan in 2009. Started by Cape Elizabeth native Luke Holden, Luke’s Lobster debuted in New York City’s East Village, and went on to make its mark in 10 cities across the U.S. — including three locations in Boston — plus Japan and Taiwan. The chain has always been comprised of fast-casual shacks selling lobster, crab, and shrimp rolls, along with clam chowder, lobster bisque, and other small sides. It’s noteworthy, then, that the Portland location will be the company’s first full-service restaurant, and will offer an expanded menu along with drinks and a lobster buying station.

Fried belly clams at Luke's Lobster
Fried belly clams at Luke’s Lobster. —PIXELLAB
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At the kitchen’s helm is head chef Zac Leeman, who grew up on Orr’s Island in the Gulf of Maine. In addition to the expected lobster rolls and clam chowder, Leeman has crafted fried haddock sandwiches, a Captain’s burger, and platters that pair lobster, haddock, belly clams, and chicken tenders with a customizable combination of sides: fries, house salad, poppyseed slaw, and lemon herb potato salad. A small kid’s menu — grilled cheese, hot dogs, junior burgers, and more — will encourage parents to bring their children, though two full bars will also make Luke’s new location a prime spot for grabbing a beer or two with friends. Local craft beer and wine are accompanied by classic cocktails like a margarita, Dark & Stormy, and lime rickey, and desserts are provided by local businesses Two Fat Cats and Parlor Ice Cream.

A spread at Luke's Lobster
A spread at Luke’s Lobster. —PIXELLAB

“Luke’s Lobster started as a side project when I was living in New York City and found myself missing Maine and eager for a taste of home,” Holden said in a press release. “The idea developed into bringing the best and most sustainable seafood that Maine has to offer to cities across the country and around the globe. After all the shacks we have opened over the past 10 years, Portland Pier serves as a homecoming. We seek to make meaningful contributions to this vibrant community and the working waterfront through our lobster and crab buying station and the restaurant.”

Luke's Lobster in Portland, Maine
Luke’s Lobster in Portland, Maine. —Chris Cary
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The site of Portland’s new Luke’s Lobster location went through a two-year restoration process, which resulted in a rebuilding of the pier and construction of a lobster buying station. The former building was renovated to include reclaimed wood, polished concrete, and picture windows with an almost 360-degree view of Portland Harbor.

During lunch, guests can order at the counter on the first floor or experience table service on the second floor, while dinner will be table service throughout the restaurant (except at the bar). Dinner will be served during soft open on Wednesday and Thursday, and lunch service will kick in on Friday.

Luke’s Lobster; 60 Portland Pier, Portland, Maine; Sundays–Wednesdays from 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Thursdays–Saturdays from 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; lukeslobster.com