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Rock Lobster

Chugrad McAndrews

Russell Deutsch went to an Oakland Athletics baseball game one day when the A’s were playing the Boston Red Sox and was amazed by all the Red Sox fans. Deutsch, himself a California transplant from New England, saw right then and there his new calling. “There were more Red Sox fans than Oakland fans,” he says. “And I knew then a lobster shack was something I could do.” Deutsch had spent 15 years working in lobster export and distribution in his native Boston, so he knew exactly what was required to establish an authentic Maine lobster shack, a genre of no-frills restaurants that line the Maine coast and are known for serving some of the freshest, tastiest lobster. In 2006, Deutsch opened the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City and, about a year later, opened two more locations, in San Francisco and downtown Napa. His shack experience is authentic, with picnic tables and decor brought in from Maine fishing villages and a tank of live Maine lobsters. Guests order from a menu board when they walk in, and eat off a cloth on the table. But most important for discerning New Englanders, the menu includes authentically prepared steamed lobster, lobster rolls, baked stuffed lobster, fried clams, and day-boat scallops. All three venues already have a big fan base—at one location, two customers (read: fanatics) came in more than 15 times in the first two months—but Deutsch foresees the Napa venue doing the highest volume—one reason he’s decided to run that kitchen himself. But he isn’t worried. “These are the same recipes I’ve been making since I was a kid,” he says. “Napa is such a who’s who [of food], it’s just great to know there’s a buzz about this place.” Now that Deutsch juggles three restaurants, life is all Lobster Shack, all the time. Luckily, lobster love seems to run in the family. When Deutsch asked his son what he wanted for his fourth birthday, the reply was—what else?—lobster. The Lobster Shack is located at 806 Fourth St., Napa, (707) 258-8200, www.lobshack.com.

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