Read How The Lobster Pool Restaurant Owners Who Support Local Lobstermen Are Getting Harassed

I’m not even sure how the Board the Board of Appeals after considering how every allegation against the owners has been proven to be false still intends to punish this place which has done nothing but continue to operate and honor the long time family traditions that every previous owner did at The Lobster Pool In Rockpoprt.

The Lobster Pool supports local lobster prices including buying lobster from Gloucester and Rockport lobstermen, and generations have been bringing their families to enjoy traditional lobster boils which of course Rockport is famous for.

For a minute imagine you make an investment in a business and run it exactly the same way it had been run for decades and then you got the rug swept out from under you devaluing your business by half over absolute harassment from people that are writing in slanderous things and spreading false rumors like you were trying to put in Rock and Roll bands when all you were doing was reapplying for the same license that every previous owner got every single year to announce when the orders were ready on the PA system?

Outrageous.

Read this article from the Times and tell me the owners aren’t getting harassed-

New ownership at the Lobster Pool has reinvigorated a long simmering dispute between residential neighbors and the Granite Street restaurant about parking, noise, and visiting diners.

The latest brouhaha is over the number of diners the seaside eatery can seat.

Residents recently submitted a complaint to building inspector Paul Orlando regarding the picnic tables on the outdoor lawn. A more than 40-year-old town law limits the restaurant to six picnic tables, a cap Orlando admitted was sometimes exceeded by the previous owners. Bradley Atkinson, who co-owns the Lobster Pool with Ryan Cox, Myles Cox and Noah Goldstein, said when they bought the property two years ago, there were 24 tables outside.

 

Next Wednesday, the four new owners will ask the town Board of Appeals if they may return some of those tables to the lawn after Orlando had them remove all but six in response to the complaint.

“The only reason we’re filing this is because they’re telling us we have to remove all but six tables, which would end the business,” Atkinson said. He and his co-owners would like to add more tables because six tables is sometimes too few for 36 diners. Often a couple will take a table, or a family of four. “When it’s nice out, no one wants to sit inside.”

Some neighbors have complained about how many diners the restaurant serves. “I believe the capacity was set, a long time ago, at 75 or 74 people at a time,” said former Selectwoman Ellen Canavan, a Granite Street resident. “They have exploded it so instead of 74 people, there have been 150, we even counted 168 and it’s overwhelming the neighborhood.”

In fact, some neighbors were so vocal that there were far more customers last summer at the Lobster Pool than in past years that the Board of Health assigned a food inspector to investigate. Over the course of August and September, the inspector visited 13 times during the restaurant’s rush hours on weekend nights, and the highest count was 65 people.

They have also complained about non-existent expansion plans.

“They are requesting an expansion of their seating from 36 to 96, quite a big jump,” resident Mark Richard wrote in an email of the Lobster Pool owners’ request to add more tables outside.

The new owners say they are not expanding; they would just like to seat the numbers of diners allowed. Again, after hearing from neighbors, the town looked into the matter; in September the Board of Appeals found that the restaurant is permitted to seat 60 diners inside and 36 outside, for a total of 96, a cap that has existed for decades.

Parking in demand

There have been other complaints, which Atkinson, the Coxes and Goldstein have attempted to appease.

“All of a sudden the road on Route 127 became a massive parking lot with cars all over the road,” Canavan said, citing why she does not want more seating outside at the Lobster Pool.

Neighbors approached the town Parking Commission last year, blaming the owners for the traffic chaos. The complaint resurfaced at a Board of Health meeting in July; board members told the neighbors parking is at a premium because the area, including nearby Halibut Point State Park, is a well-known tourist attraction. “Several divers, Halibut Point goers, and runners, walkers park at the site,” Board of Health member Dr. Sydney Wedmore said.

And it wasn’t only visitors. Other people said and later photographic evidence showed some neighbors were parking on the street instead of in their driveways, making Granite Street look busier than it already is.

At the time, the new owners voluntarily hired a police detail on the summer weekends to try to ease the street parking problem, at a cost of about $2,000, Atkinson said. “Again, we wanted to work with the neighbors,” he said.

Easing noise, odors

A next-door neighbor suddenly found a dumpster that had remained in the same spot since the restaurant opened in 1954 was now a nuisance. The sounds of it being emptied and the odor it emitted were disruptive, the neighbor said. “Without telling us that it was a problem, they went to the Board of Health,” Atkinson said. The owners willingly complied with suggestions from the board, built a canal and moved the dumpster, which cost them $5,000.

 

“We said, ‘We want to work with you, we don’t want any problems,’” Atkinson said regarding the neighbor.

When the new owners went to renew an “entertainment license,” rumors spread all over town and on the Facebook page “Rockport Stuff” that they were trying to bring in live music and rock ‘n roll bands. The license was actually for the speaker system outside the building used to announce when an order was ready. “We were never going to do music,” Atkinson said. Then some neighbors claimed the speaker system, which had been used for decades, was disruptive.

“We’ve run it the same way it’s always been run,” Atkinson said. Rather than fight, the owners replaced the speaker system with a new handheld buzzer system to notify customers that their order is ready, which Atkinson said cost more than $1,000.

And finally there is the restaurant’s septic system.

“The residents simply want the pollution to stop,” Richard said in an email statement.

While the septic system did fail a Title 5 inspection, there is no evidence of fecal matter leaching into the wetlands. “That’s a rumor certainly and speculation,” Wedmore said Thursday.

The new owners expected the failure and required the previous owners to put money in escrow to cover the purchase of a new system. Atkinson and his co-owners have two years to replace the current tank with a new tight tank; they are working with the Board of Health to accomplish that.

“All we are trying to do is keep business as usual,” Atkinson said.

Mary Markos may be contacted at 978-675-2708 or mmarkos@gloucestertimes.com

11 comments

  • Definitely harassment. So sad to read this. The Lobster Pool is a venerable Rockport institution and very special to generations of lobster lovers and lovers of Cape Ann. I would hate to see the place close because of ongoing harassment of the new owners who very clearly are making an enormous effort to appease disgruntled neighbors and to run the restaurant properly, legally, and traditionally. Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  • This is the same BS that neighbors of airports spread. If you don’t like living next to something commercial, that’s been there a while – possibly longer than you have, MOVE. Heck, the Lobster Pool is only open 4 or 5 months a year as it is…

    Liked by 1 person

  • sounds harassing, but at the same time to build a business model on outdoor seating over permitted capacity is a huge mistake on their part – maybe they didn’t dig into the #s when they bought the place and made assumptions that tables equalled permits, but thats their issue to deal with. some years back Agway in danvers had expanded its storage onto national grid land. when the rail trail was put in they were asked to move their stuff and asserted it would put them out of business.

    Like

  • 13 health inspector visits in two months. Crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I had no idea one of my favorite places to visit while on vacation was under siege. While I understand neighbors’ concerns, they aren’t really valid considering that during tourist season all local roads seem to be crowded with parked cars visiting all manner of local attractions. I think one of the reasons we love it up there are the windy narrow roads which force you to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Please stop harassing a small business that’s continuing to run as it always has! Lobster Pool stay strong! You’ll always get our patronage! See you in August!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I loved the part where the neighbors parked their own cars there to make it look like there was overcrowding. If they restaurant gets closed, the owners should sue them back to the stone age.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for shedding a light on this issue, Joey. We’ve enjoyed the Lobster Pool and look forward to dining outside again this summer. As for the picnic tables, we were a party of two at one of them; not an uncommon sight that afternoon. And parking? For sure.
    Never easy with petty neighbors. As I read this article, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate is the neighborhood to have such agreeable business owners who are willing to work with them and all the town agencies. They work hard and deserve the chance to enjoy success.
    See you in a few months!

    Like

  • Lillian N (Favazza) McTigue

    Maybe these neighbors should chill out and remember all the business that Rockport gets with a great restaurant in town. I grew up in Gloucester and although I am retired and live in Florida now, I still love to visit. I look forward to dining at the Lobster Pool the next time I am in town.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Are these Rockport residents serious? What a joke. I honestly thought this was an excerpt from The Onion it was so unbelievable. The owner’s seem to be doing everything they can to accommodate, and these residents keep trying to knock them down with ludicrous accusations and complaints. It’s sad.

    Like

  • Wow…scum bags. The gents from The Farm are clearly going out of the way to accommodate the community, and the community just keeps messing with them. At this point I would suggest they seek some legal advice, as the letters and inaccurate reports to the City agencies could potentially be considered harassment, slanderous and/or libelous. Clearly they can prove financial damages incurred by what these people are doing.

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  • Joey thanks!

    Gee whiz!! I remember this location very well there was a clam shack fried and steamers out on the end of this area back in the 60’s Pint, quart boxes oh so good! summer time for the clam shack and most of the seasons except closed early fall then until spring boarded up for the storms(?) ! Now this was many moons ago and it happened to be where I went many times when I delivered my last paper just a little back on the Foley Cove side the house with the two police Germans Shepherds beautiful dogs when owners present not wooden fence to enter when not!

    I do believe the dinner stayed open longer but may have adjusted the hours some winter?

    Like

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