SOUTH FREEPORT – Most of us can imagine the work involved in opening a family summer camp, but what if we were opening it up for a few thousand visitors and had been hard at it for 40 summers?

Congratulations are in order to the people who started and still run Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster Co., where the lobster was likely crawling around the ocean floor no later than yesterday. The business buys lobsters from seven or eight local lobster boats, and you can watch the catch being unloaded.

Regis Coffin has been the majority holder of the business for five years. She is still a business partner with her ex-husband, lobsterman John Coffin. They started the business together in 1971, and at first they cooked just lobsters, clams and some fixings.

But then a lunch window opened and “put the wives to work,” Regis Coffin said. She worked with sister-in-law Connie Coffin and served desserts made by the mothers of John and Connie Coffin. “They were wonderful, wonderful cooks,” Regis Coffin said.

Brendon Alterio, ex-husband of another Coffin, Kelly, is the manager. Regis Coffin’s sister, Lucinda Kennedy, helps in the summer, and Regis’ son Tom Coffin, a commercial fisherman, assists with morning prep.

Got that?

“It’s crazy, but it’s a nice crazy,” said Regis Coffin, 63. “I can smell the ocean and see the beautiful view, and I’m not tired of it yet.”

Local students work here in the summers through high school and college, handling the crowds with improved efficiency. A total kitchen renovation has sped up the service in recent years. Two pickers work daily for three hours to pull enough cooked lobster meat from their shells to fill orders.

Local clammer Kenny Goodenow, 72, has been digging the clams used here for as long as the snack window has been open, and his son Clinton Goodenow has been working with him since he was in high school more than 20 years ago.

The numbers of the orders are called when the meals are ready. Many visitors bring their own wine or beer and find a spot at a red-painted picnic table, in the sun or under the canopy, to devour dinner. There are a few seats at a short counter at the edge of the wharf.

Tables inside a dining room are for anyone who wants to escape the heat or a chill, and an inner window from the lobster pound allows those orders to be delivered inside.

Lobster, lobster bisque ($4.95 a cup), steamed clams, crabs when they have them and lobster dinners are ordered and served from the lobster window on the back side of the building, which looks out on the water.

Customers order from the lunch window if they want fried seafood or lobster rolls and other menu items, such as a cheeseburger.

Lobster salad ($14) is as simple as it gets. Four or five ounces of lobster meat, including claws and big chunks of tail, are dressed lightly with mayonnaise, salt and pepper. The iceberg lettuce and hard refrigerator tomatoes needed some salad dressing, but the lobster meat is delicious.

Lobster rolls hold the same straightforward mixture on a bed of lettuce in a toasted hot dog roll. Crab cakes and fried haddock are on this menu too.

The fresh fruit cup ($4.95) is dominated by waterlogged chunks of melon and pineapple, and it’s not the kitchen’s forte. Rely on the fried scallops ($14.50 for a half-pint order with no sides), which are tender, moist and precisely cooked.

Fried clams ($21.95 for a “basket” with fries and coleslaw) were lightly coated in crumbs, and were fresh-tasting and mild. Kraft tartar sauce in little plastic tubs is not the best-tasting stuff, but it does the job. The chopped coleslaw is sweet and crunchy, but the fries are uninspired.

Batter-fried clams are also prepared here, a favorite with older customers but something younger people don’t order, Regis said, because they don’t know what they are. The friendly fellow taking orders at the lunch window has a picture to help customers get an idea — the batter puffs up and is light and crunchy around the tender clams. Next year, Regis said, they might offer batter-fried fish.

The pies ($3.95 a slice; $1.50 more with ice cream) are still made here. They include strawberry-rhubarb, apple, chocolate cream and coconut cream, and are ordered at the dessert window. Blueberry pie can be heated up, and is served in a paper bowl with a spoon. The hot berries of my serving carried their wonderful sunny taste past the thickener and a little too much sugar. A brown top crust was flaky, but the bottom crust was undercooked.

The whoopie pie recipe is the same as it has been for 40 years. Dessert lovers can also try brownies, bread pudding or blueberry crisp, or sample French vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or coffee ice cream from Giffords. 

N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of “Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast.” Visit English’s website,


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