Maine Men

In October 2009, two twenty-something guys opened up Luke’s Lobster— a seafood shack in New York’s East Village. Less than a year later, they expanded, setting up a second, larger Luke’s on the city’s the Upper East Side. Here, in a new GQ blog series, Ben Conniff reveals why he and Luke Holden quit their day jobs to dive into the shark-infested waters of the N.Y.C. restaurant business—and how they’re scrapping their way to the top of the heap

from GQ, July 29, 2010

One afternoon in July of 2009, my cell phone started buzzing. I had recently sent an article to a popular food magazine, and my editor’s name was blinking on my screen. I’d been freelance writing for some decent publications in New York, but money was still tight. My editor was writing to say she loved the story. She was even going to pay me this time. As soon as the story ran. Sometime in 2010. Exactly one year ago today, I opened my laptop and turned to the place where everyone goes when they discover something missing in their lives: Craigslist.

I was ready to stop writing about food and start making it. But no restaurants were looking to hire an Ivy League keyboard pecker whose only food-service experience was seven teenage years spent eating the merchandise at a Connecticut doughnut shop. Surfing Craigslist was a real Hail Mary, and that day it paid off: I came across an ad for a nascent lobster-roll business looking for someone smart, talented, and hardworking to help create something special. I was none of those things. But I was sure I could learn.


Luke’s Lobster roll

Eleven months later, I’m a co-owner of Luke’s Lobster, with two locations in New York City. I’ve worked more hours in those months than in the entire rest of my life combined. Along with Luke Holden, the restaurant’s founder, I’ve learned piece by piece, kick in the groin by kick in the groin, how this business works. And yet the fire drills and roadblocks we encounter every day suggest that we’ll be learning the hard way for a long time to come.


Luke Holden and Ben Conniff

This is the story of two guys with a passion for seafood who walked out on conventional careers to do something on their own. It’s an insider’s look into the glorious highs and the crushing blows of an ambitious restaurant empire that (knock on wood) is just getting started. The story begins in a town called Cape Elizabeth— just outside Portland, Maine— with a man named Jeff, his eldest boy, Luke, and some lobsters.

Read More


1 comment so far

  1. Bryan Lee on

    totally awesome. thanks for sharing the inspiration article.

    All the best to your business 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: