Luke’s Lobster, a seafood company and restaurant group founded by Luke Holden in 2009, in collaboration with the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation (Foundation), is excited to announce its partnership to operate a seafood buying station at the historic Sea Pier in Boothbay Harbor. Last August, the newly formed Foundation entered into an agreement to acquire the Sea Pier, previously owned by longtime fisherman Douglas Carter, who wanted to ensure he sold his property to an entity that would keep it as a commercial fishing wharf. The lease was signed last week between the parties, and Luke’s has taken over operations and lobster buying at Sea Pier. One-hundred percent of the Boothbay Harbor catch will go directly to Luke’s own seafood company to be steamed, hand-picked and packed for serving directly to Luke’s Lobster guests around the world.
The Foundation was created with a mission to protect Boothbay’s working waterfront, its marine related activities and access for fishermen, as well as an educational mandate.
“We spent a long time looking for the right operator for Sea Pier,” said Deanne Tibbets, board president of the Foundation. “We believe Luke’s has the ability to work collaboratively with the Sea Pier’s fishermen and is the best partner to help us realize our vision – a vibrant working waterfront, access for fishermen and public education about Boothbay’s fishing heritage.”
As part of the lease agreement, an advisory committee made up of representatives from the Foundation, fishermen who fish at Sea Pier and representatives from Luke’s will be created to ensure the operational transition is smooth, the Foundation’s mission is implemented and communication among all parties is open and clear.
“We are really looking forward to this partnership and to working with the fishermen here at Sea Pier to create as much value as possible for their product at the shore,” said Luke Holden, founder and CEO of Luke’s. “Protecting Maine’s working waterfront and access for fishermen is important for our business, and our mission of sourcing the highest quality seafood but also critically important for Maine’s future.” The possible formation of a fisherman’s co-op is an option all parties are excited to explore.
The Sea Pier, being renamed Carter’s Wharf, is one of several commercial fishing wharves on the east side of Boothbay Harbor. The formation of the Foundation and the anonymous donation which made the transfer of the property possible, as well as a restriction in the deed requiring the property remain a commercial fishing wharf, speaks to the importance of the working waterfront and its preservation for coastal communities.
“The working waterfront is key to Maine on many levels – not only maintaining access for fishermen but also for tourism and economic development. People coming from out of state want to see the authentic Maine, and that’s our working waterfront,” said Ben Martens, executive director for the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, which is the fiscal sponsor of the Foundation as it awaits its 501(c)(3) status from the federal government. “The partnership with Luke’s, an innovative and growth oriented company, with a track record for excellent collaboration with fishermen, is a smart move for the Foundation and more broadly for the Boothbay community.”
Luke’s Lobster is a restaurant group dedicated to traceability, sustainability and providing guests with delicious, fresh seafood. Luke’s Seafood Co., its processing facility based in Saco, Maine, buys lobster and crab directly from fishermen, and works collaboratively with them to return more value to the shore. In 2018, Luke’s became a certified B Corporation, memorializing its long-standing commitment to sustainability.
Founder Luke Holden sits on the board of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, the Island Institute, and the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op, which he helped found. Luke’s donates a portion of its proceeds to The Ocean Foundation and the Island Institute, helping preserve Maine’s fishing communities and the sustainability of our oceans.