SOUTH THOMASTON – Bree Burns owns and operates McLoon’s Lobster Shack at 315 Island Road, at the end of Spruce Head Island — easy to find and well worth the trip.
Burns opened McLoon’s in 2012.
“My family owns the wharf,” she said. “McLoon’s Wharf and McLoon’s Lobster Shack are connected businesses. We are both part of the same wharf; it’s just that there were two sides to the buying station. There was the bait shed and this was the place where they prepared the traps.”
Burns said the shack side of the wharf fell out of use.
“It was just sitting here and used for some storage,” she said. “It was one of the former wharf managers who had this idea that maybe we could put in a little place to sell lobster rolls.”
Burns said the idea was to cater to people who were out for a joy ride.
“All the lobstermen on the other side of the wharf thought it was crazy,” she said. “Pretty much everybody thought it was a crazy idea. Even we didn’t think it would work.”
Burns said it turned out to be a lot more then anyone thought it could be.
One of the featured items at McLoon’s is the Lobster Rolls Royce, but we’ll get to that. First, a focus on just the lobster roll. Burns said you get the whole lobster.
“A lobster roll is the equivalent of about a one- and a quarter-pound lobster,” she said. “Sometimes it is a little more meat than a lobster, give or take. It depends on the lobster, obviously.”
Burns said you are guaranteed that amount of lobster.
“We try to give what you would get in a lobster,” she said. “A couple of claws, some tail and knuckle meat, so you get the whole lobster experience in a roll. We can add a little mayo if wanted; lemon, or butter on the side. Some people like their lobster heated a little bit and we can do that, too, if they ask.”
Burns said the lobsters come not 10 feet from the shack and are cooked right there.
“For our lobster dinners we just keep them in a crate floating there,” she said. “People can actually watch the lobsters come up. If you’re there at the right time you can actually pick your lobster. We used to let everybody pick their own lobster, but now it’s too busy and I wouldn’t be able to keep track of everybody’s lobster.”
Burns said there about a dozen lobstermen who sell directly to McLoon’s.
“It’s all connected to a wholesale business that my family has in Portland,” she said. “We buy the lobsters and then sell them where ever there’s a market for them. And then, of course, we use a portion of them here.”
Burns said the idea for the Lobster Rolls Royce was her idea.
“It was years ago,” she said. “We had a group of people who had a Rolls Royce Ghost. It was a convention of some sort, but they all came here for lunch one day. They had arranged it with us so for that one day I did a Rolls Royce Roll.”
According to Wikipedia: “The Rolls-Royce Ghost is a British full-size luxury car manufactured by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The Ghost nameplate, named in honor of the Silver Ghost, a car first produced in 1906, was announced in April 2009 at the Auto Shanghai show. During development, the Ghost was known as the RR04. Designed as a smaller, more measured, more realistic car than the Phantom, aiming for a lower price category for Rolls-Royce models, the retail price is around £170,000. The production model was officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.”
Burns said it went over well.
“We sort of played with it,” she said. “The next year we decided to make it the jumbo size. We sell quite a few of them. They are twice the size as our regular lobster roll.”
Twice the lobster roll means you’re going to pay twice the price, but if you are a real lobster roll aficionado, it’s the only way to go.
Menu items include lobster stew and corn chowder, smoked mussels and grilled clams.
“The mussels come from Belfast,” Burns said. “We get our clams from the New Meadows River. Local clammers supply us. They’re fresh and briny and good; super simple.”
Burns said they cannot offer steamers.
“We’re so small, we’re limited in the number of items we can put out,” she said. “We can’t really do steamers along with the lobster, but we can grill them. And that’s where that idea came from as a way to do clams without having to give up space.”
McLoon’s opened for the season in June and will be open through the fall, but exactly when is speculation.
“We’ll definitely be open through Labor Day,” said Burns. “After Labor Day I lose half the staff. We like to make it through Columbus Day, but we haven’t been able to make that the last couple of years, so I’m saying kind of the end of September and we’ll probably close a couple of days during the week in September.”
A lobster dinner includes coleslaw, chips and a pickle and a dinner roll from Atlantic Baking Company. Burns said in season they include an ear of grilled corn.
There are other menu items, as well: crab cakes, burgers and veggie burgers, even a grilled cheese sandwich. There are ice cream desserts and maybe one of the most relaxing views of the water on the peninsula.
Plan a short road trip or outing for lunch or an early dinner. You’ll be glad you did.