The Lobster Trap | Bourne, MA
Nearly 50 Years On, Still Going Strong
Since its opening in 1969 as a small fish market, the Lobster Trap has consistently ranked as one of the top spots for seafood on Cape Cod and it's not just because it offers incredibly fresh product. For owner David DeLancey, it comes down to relationships.
"We've been in this business this long because we maintain relationships and do the right thing," DeLancey said. "We make sure our vendors are taken care of and they take care of us. We take care of the customers and they take care of us. We source the best ingredients we can find. And we'll ask new guys in the kitchen who the most influential person was in their life and we'll tell them to think they're always serving them."
And to keep everyone on staff humble, the napkin wrappers feature the restaurant's motto to provide a reminder: "We're only as good as the last meal we cook."
That has served the Lobster Trap well. The restaurant grew from a market in 1969 to include a small restaurant in 1976 only open between Memorial Day and Labor Day serving the basics: lobster rolls, fish and chips, and fried clams. DeLancey, 39, who started working there in 1998, purchased the business from Logan Clarke (who now focuses on his multimillion-dollar wholesale seafood business of the same name next door) in 2004. He expanded the menu, added windows, insulation and heat to the former simple screened-in porch building and in 2010, decided to stay open seven days a week, year-round. Today the Lobster Trap, with its seafood-shack vibe with gray shingles on the walls and light wood floors, seats 100 inside and another 50 on an outdoor patio, both of which swell in the summer.
The Lobster Trap's off-the-beaten path location overlooks Buzzards Bay at the mouth of the Back River, just minutes after crossing onto Cape Cod. People swarm there all summer for fresh lobster rolls simply prepared with salt, pepper and mayonnaise served in a grilled brioche roll and topped with shaved iceberg lettuce; creamy clam chowder; lightly breaded and seasoned lump crab cakes served with avocado cream; tuna pad thai; and their top-selling margarita made with Don Julio tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime served on the rocks with salt. Much of the appeal comes from how fresh and local all the food is; in many cases, they get fresh catch directly from the wholesaler next door.
DeLancey said that 70 percent of his business comes from locals. Throughout the off-season, he offers $1 oysters on Thursdays, going through upwards of 1,200 oysters each Thursday. On Sundays, they do a $20 brunch set up on a 30-foot buffet that changes weekly, but can include things like pan-roasted cod, eggs Benedict, marinated flank steak and more. And come summer, to keep locals happy, DeLancey and his general manager give out their personal cell phone numbers so folks can call ahead to skip the sometimes hour-long wait to sit down. It all goes back to keeping relationships strong.
"We put a lot of pride into what we do," DeLancey boasts. "I wake up daily and want to give 150 percent. That's our training, our work ethic and our passion for the business. This isn't just a job for us, it's a lifestyle."
And what a great life that is.