Waterman’s Beach Lobster, a popular, family-owned lobster pound in South Thomaston and winner of a James Beard America’s Classic Award, is closing for good Sept. 4, the owners have announced.

The sisters-in-law who run the business day-to-day say they are simply ready to retire after 30 years. The lobster pound is on property that’s been in the family for more than 150 years, so they will not be selling the building or the business.

“We’re not selling the business because we don’t want our name to go downhill,” said Sandy Manahan, whose mother, Anne Manahan, launched Waterman’s in 1986. (Waterman was Anne’s maiden name.) “We’re not sure that everybody else would have the same care that we have had with this business. And we’re not selling the building because it’s in the family.”

The family started the business after building a wharf and finding they had a lot of leftover lumber. They decided to build a little lobster shack overlooking Penobscot Bay.

“It was quiet,” said Lorri Cousens, Manahan’s sister-in-law, who is married to Dave Cousens, the president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “There weren’t many people who knew about it. It was word of mouth. And it just grew and grew. We’ve enlarged it and added some picnic tables and won some awards and got national attention, so it’s pretty crazy at times.”

In 2001, Waterman’s won an America’s Classics award from the James Beard Foundation. The award, according to the foundation, goes to regional restaurants that have “timeless appeal” and “serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities.”


Manahan works the window and Cousens steams all the lobsters. They have a staff of 10 who help them pick lobster meat. The menu, including the lobster roll served on a hamburger bun instead of a split roll, has mostly stayed the same. Waterman’s is BYOB and cash-only, so tourists with credit cards must march down to the general store a few miles away to use an ATM.

Customers bring their dogs and walk on the beach. The restaurant has a space set aside where kids can play with beach toys.

The family made the decision to close three weeks ago, and announced it on Facebook this week. A sign has also gone up at the restaurant. Customers’ reaction was swift and sad.

“I’ve had some ladies cry,” Manahan said. “I’ve had people beg. It’s sad. A lot of families have a lot of memories here. They come here because they feel close to somebody who’s passed who loved this place, or (they have) family memories with their kids growing up.”

The women say that while they will miss their customers, they are ready to have some Maine summers all to themselves. Cousens said that her lobsterman husband typically arrives home around 12:30 p.m. each day, while she doesn’t get home until 8:30 or 9 p.m. They want to be able to do some fun things together while they’re still young, she said – go paddle boarding, or attend a boat show.

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