The disappearance of the red Lobsterman’s Wharf building in East Boothbay a few years ago marked the end of an era. And a new era has begun. The former restaurant, built around a minesweeper pilothouse, now offers open air dining – exclusively.
This kind of restaurant is what owners Dan and Eileen Miller have wanted to do right along. But the original plan in 2019 was to demolish the restaurant and replace it, completely rebuild the wharf, replace the pilings and the foundation under the nearby fish house, and add a walking gangway from the jetty off the couple’s Ocean Point Marina (216 Ocean Point Road) to the parking lot.
This year, some of that work was completed. Fuller Marine replaced the pier, dock and pilings. Some of the restaurant’s wood has been repurposed into the picnic tables, and the front counter of the bar and part of the railing are remnants of the original bar.
The Millers opened the new, open air Lobsterman’s Wharf Aug. 6. It remains a family affair with three of their five kids still working there. Killian is the bartender who gets to work in the rebuilt lobster boat Dan and Eileen bought from Martin Page.
“We had to modify it a bit,” Dan Miller said of the 50-year/old boat, now with a nautical blue hull. “It took a good month and a half’s worth of work at the (Ocean Point) Marina.”
“When Dan came up with the idea for the bar – an actual lobster boat on the pier – we all thought he was crazy,” Eileen said. “But it’s actually worked out quite well!”
Sons Cormac and Danny are in the kitchen-food truck where now and again Dan is pressed into service. Everyone orders and picks up their food at the shack, where you’ll find Eileen. The menu is almost the same, with the exception of entrees and side dishes, but has something for everyone, from scallops, calamari and lobster, to fish and chips and grilled cheese. Dan said the menu changes a little from day to day, if they run out of ingredients; using a food truck as a kitchen has its limitations.
Although the new Lobsterman’s Wharf is licensed for 150 people, due to COVID-19 the number of people is about half that.
“We just made sure the tables were all placed six feet apart and everyone has to wear a mask unless they’re at a table,” Dan said. “People have been very cooperative, very understanding about the masks.”
The lobster boat bar and half a dozen black wrought iron tables and chairs are sheltered under a tent. Edison lights have been hung around the underside of the tents for a bit of ambiance. The rest of the seating is the familiar picnic tables, most with umbrellas, set up similarly to the way they’ve always been. The picnic tables, most with umbrellas, set up similarly to the way they’ve always been, are without tent cover this year.
Bar stools are set up around part of the perimeter of the pier facing Washburn & Doughty and the Damariscotta River with a narrow counter for beverages.
So, for this year, if the weather is wild and rainy, Lobsterman’s will be closed. Dan said the business was never really that busy the previous five seasons when the weather was inclement.
“We always want to do something (new) for the next season,” said Dan. “Maybe a kitchen re-do and more cover (tenting).”
Dan and Eileen had brought back the Sunday jazz that proved quite popular when Hilary and Kathy Heaton owned the business. Eventually, rock, blues, folk and Americana were added. Music isn’t planned for this year, although Dan said it will be a lot easier to have music there than it used to be when musicians had to carry all their equipment and instruments through the indoor restaurant and bar to get to the pier.
The Millers are playing the rest of the season by ear. Dan said it will be open through late September, maybe Columbus Day. “We’ve been really busy every day ... everything we’ve heard back from people has been positive. We’ll see how it goes.”
“I would like to thank the all the businesses and people that helped us complete this project,” said Dan. “The list includes Fuller Marine Services who did a tremendous job on the dock, Charles Bamberg Design Services, Boothbay planning board and town office, Oyster Creek Electric, Black Seal Co., Bath Savings Institute, Martin Page, Johnny King Demolition, Chuck Applebee, all of our children as well as our employees at Ocean Point Marina.”
Lobsterman’s Wharf at 224 Ocean Point Road, East Boothbay, or 43°51'54.7"N 69°35'05.3"W by boat, is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m.