The line for Red’s Eats wraps around the building alongside Route 1. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

In spite of the cold, dreary weather Monday, a sure sign of summer sprouted in Wiscasset.

Red’s Eats lobster shack opened for its 85th season, drawing hundreds of customers who waited in its trademark wraparound line along Route 1, bundled up against the steady drizzle.

“We’re very humbled by all these folks,” said Red’s owner Debbie Gagnon. “We’re happy to have everyone here.”

Red’s Eats owner Debbie Gagnon shows off a fresh plate of lobster rolls during the lobster shack’s season opening Monday. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

First-time Red’s customers Greg Avilla and Grace McEwen of Westport, Massachusetts, drove up during their vacation in Ogunquit. They said they were inspired to make the trip after watching the Netflix show “Somebody Feed Phil,” which featured Red’s in an episode last year. They were excited to try the lobster rolls.

“I’ve had a lobster roll but not from here,” Avilla said.

Lobster rolls were priced at $36 Monday; the cost varies based on market prices for the crustacean.


Laura Reilly of Rutland, Massachusetts, said she has been coming to Red’s for 18 years. She made a special day trip Monday to get a lobster roll and side of scallops.

“I love how friendly Deb is; she’s wonderful,” Reilly said. “When it’s raining, they have umbrellas. They have water for the dogs. She gives away free Angus beef hot dogs to dogs.”

Gagnon said it’s a trying time for the Maine lobster industry, which was barred from working in a 950-square-mile region off the Gulf of Maine from October to January, a result of federal regulations aimed at protecting critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Regulators say whales get entangled in fishing gear, including lobster equipment, which can kill them. And Whole Foods last year stopped selling Maine lobster due to concerns about lobstering’s effect on the whales.

Last summer, Gagnon held a fundraiser for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, and she plans to hold another one this summer.

“Lobster is the heartbeat of Maine and we cannot flatline it,” Gagnon said. “It’s really important for people to get out and to support Maine lobstermen and women. … When people think of Maine, they think of lobster, and it has to be protected. Everyone needs to eat more lobster.”

Red’s has been in Gagnon’s family for 46 years. Her father, Al “Red” Gagnon, who died in 2008, bought the stand in 1977.

Gagnon said she’s continuing the family legacy and hopes for another 85 years.

“We love doing what we do,” she said. “This doesn’t get old. We have so much fun.”

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