Monday, October 21, 2019

After 10 years, Luke's Lobster is closing its East Village outpost on Oct. 31

After 10 years of operating in the East Village, Luke’s Lobster is closing their original operation at 93 E. Seventh St. between Avenue A and First Avenue at the end of this month.

While business is strong for the ever-expanding brand, the small space on Seventh Street no longer fits the company's vision for a Luke's dining experience.

Founders Luke Holden and Ben Conniff discuss the impending closure and share the story of their origins here via a blog post at the Luke's Lobster website.

It's hard to believe it's been over 10 years since we first walked into the space formerly known as "Sousa's Closet," a recently closed consignment shop at 93 E. 7th Street. It wasn't exactly what we would have envisioned for a lobster shack — just 225 square feet in one little room, with a tiny bathroom in the back corner that also served as an office. The walls and ceiling were painted an inexplicable combination of dark brown and light blue.

The space was cooled by an old window AC unit, and there was about enough electricity to power that and the overhead lights, and that's about it. But with the shoestring budget we had, this little shoebox was the biggest and best space we could find to launch Luke's Lobster.

In just 30 days, we and our friends and family did the best we could to turn that closet into an approximation of a lobster shack. We painted the walls a (slightly) better yellow, decorated with Luke's actual lobster buoys and traps from his time on the water, and added the basic mechanics: a dish sink, some electrical power, fridges, and a toaster. On day one we were slammed, and the seed for a growing business was planted.

It's been amazing and humbling to celebrate our 10th Anniversary this month. But there is one accompanying bit of sad news that we have yet to share, and that is the closing of our original location at 93 E. 7th Street at the end of this month.

Our 10 year lease is up, and we have had to think carefully about the space's future. As we've grown in New York, we've focused on building unique shacks that truly evoke the feeling of Maine, and with each one we've made changes that make our guests happier, including more space to sit and enjoy your meal. And over time, our guests have increasingly chosen those other Luke's locations to share their everyday celebrations with family and friends.

It would have been easy to just sign a lease renewal and keep our pocket of nostalgia going on 7th Street. But our responsibility to provide the best possible experience for all our guests and make the right decision on behalf of those 600 teammates and lobstermen partners outweighs that nostalgia (rest assured the whole 7th Street team has jobs at our other locations).

We hope that all our friends in the neighborhood will continue to visit us just a short walk away at our Union Square location [University Place between 13th Street and 14th Street] after we close on Oct. 31. We'll never lose the memories that our 7th Street location afforded us over the last 10 years, but we're lucky to still have the core of that day one team working with us toward the same mission today, and to have lasting friendships with those who have moved on. It's time for 93 E. 7th Street to help launch someone else's dream, and we can't wait to visit and support it.

Today, Luke’s Lobster has more than 30 locations across nine U.S. cities and internationally in Japan and Taiwan.

Here's a look back at our first EVG post on Luke's when the homemade coming-soon signage arrived in August 2009...


KD said...

I hadn't realized how big they had gotten. I was only an occasional customer, but still sad to see them go while feeling a little neighborhood pride for their success.

Shawn said...

Call me crazy but I think opening on the new "restaurant row" on 7th Street in NYC helped tremendously boost the visibility of this place for people who probably wouldn't make the trip otherwise. Remember this was 2009, just after the huge market crash. It was the biggest depression since the Great Depression.

Curious as to what others think.

Anonymous said...

When they started lobster was crazy inexpensive, but their success and now lowered catches are raising the cost. They are a tasty treat.

Anonymous said...

This sucks.

Anonymous said...

And Kyo Ya has lost it's Michelin star!
This whole neighborhood is going to crap! (clutches pearls)

Anonymous said...

What was in that space before Luke’s Lobster? Can’t believe it’s been 10 years already!

And this sucks. I love going there for a quick munchie when I’m too tired to cook. Hopefully they will open a location in East Village some time soon.

Anonymous said...

I am gutted. I moved to EV in 2010. I love living in this neighborhood. I often patronize Lukes because I am quite keen on lobster, especially since I live a couple blocks nearby. This small nook is such a cool and unique place. I recently spoke with a friend who is an employee at another location. He said due to a lack of consistent business and with the exorbitant increase in the new lease, it was time to back out and move on. Other stores are just more successful because they are in busier and more commercialized areas. And, that the owners want to shift their focus on them. The closure of 7th street is still the end of an era. :(

Anonymous said...

University Place is sterile, save 7th Street! Vegan lobsters, the lobsters are running out soon too