Almost 10 years after opening its first hit seafood business in New York’s East Village, Luke’s Lobster is finally shacking up on the West Coast, opening at 92 2nd Street on October 11. The new space is very Old San Francisco — the historic Bourdette Building, which survived the 1906 earthquake — and it offers a casual, Maine shanty inspired atmosphere for take out and dine-in orders of lobster, crab, and shrimp rolls plus clam chowder and more New England classics.
The Luke’s chain is now more than 30 locations strong and even operates its own seafood business, Luke’s Lobster Seafood Company in Saco, Maine, which buys and processes lobster from Maine and Canada.
“We price [our lobster] very approachably by using our supply channels to remove the middle men that hike that price up,” explains partner Ben Conniff, who runs the business with namesake Luke Holden, a third generation lobsterman. Lobster rolls at Luke’s locations are typically $16, with shrimp rolls $9 and crab rolls $13. More items include salads topped with lobster tail and lobster corn chowder.
Another secret to Luke’s business: It steams and separates its lobster meat in Saco and ships it cooked, since lobsters kept alive in cramped tanks receive poor diet and exercise, Conniff says. Along with its sustainable ingredients and environmental commitment (it’s a certified B-corp), Luke’s also touts the healthiness of its product. A lobster roll on a split-top bun (from Country Kitchen Bakery in Lewiston, ME) with lemon, melted butter, mayo, and seasoning is just 300 calories.
Conniff hopes the San Francisco Luke’s location will provide an East meets West Coast atmosphere, with actual buoys from lobster traps and more “nautical decor that feels not kitschy, but feels true to what you’ll see on a waterfront” not far from the San Francisco Bay.
Beyond lunch orders (and catering, which could be a hit at downtown offices) “we’re psyched about happy hour in SoMa,” says Conniff. “We know a lot of folks don’t necessarily stick round for late dinners, but we’ve got a really nice, comfortable bar.”
There, Luke’s will serve a happy hour menu including mussels from Patagonia Provisions, local wines like Tuck Beckstoffer’s Hogwash Rosé on tap, and Maine and California beer. That means classics like Allagash White and even a one-time collaboration saison with lobster shells from SoMa’s BlackHammer brewing.
Luke’s Lobster opens at 92 2nd Street in SoMa on October 11. Weekday hours are 11 am to 9 p.m., with weekend hours from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.