BRISTOL, Maine — Deb Thibault stood over a small counter, next to the take-out door of her Deb’s Bristol Diner. There, she carefully stuffed lobster meat and a bit of lettuce into rolls.
Lobster rolls may be the iconic summer treat in Maine, but they are only an occasional item on the diner menu, in part because lobster meat is still expensive. Some take-out stands sell lobster rolls for $30 or more.
But Deb Thibault decided that needed to change, at least for a day or two.
“Knowing the lobstermen were paying high prices ... I decided I was going to get my lobsters from the local fishermen and put the lobster roll out at a cheap price,” Thibault said.
Lobstermen got high prices for their catch in 2021 and had a record a year for income. But this year, demand for lobsters has dropped and prices paid to the fishermen have dropped dramatically — although retail lobster prices have not decreased as much.
Thibault bought 35 lobsters from fishermen Thursday, cooked them, and picked the meat. The special $14.99 lobster roll was the result.
“As I think any restaurant can do, you can take one item off the menu and drop the price and be able to do something, [like] trying to help [fishermen] and the local people so they can get a lobster roll at a decent price.”
“I’d be all over it to get a lobster roll at that price,” Thibault laughed.
She put out the word on Facebook, and says customers responded.
“They looked at ‘em, peeked in the cover and said wow, that’s a lobster roll. I try to keep the claws right on top and the tail.”
The first batch of lobster meat was used up and sold out by noon Friday, and Thibault had another fifty lobsters cooked at the local fishermen’s co-op and brought in to make more.
Later in the Afternoon, her Facebook page said, “SOLD OUT, more tomorrow.”
She plans to repeat the special offer Saturday and said, "Eh, may try it another weekend."
“They come from families of lobstermen, and people are on fixed incomes. This is an older population down this way, and I say it’s a way to help. Helping them and me, too."
Customers getting take out and those sitting at inside and outside tables all smiled as they showed off their affordable lobster rolls.