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Updated: June 22, 2022

Luke's Lobster on track for opening next month at Grand Central in NYC

Luke Holden and Ben Courtesy / Luke's Lobster Ben Conniff, left, and Luke Holden, founded Luke's Lobster in 2009. They are shown here at Luke's Lobster in Portland, which opened in June 2019.

Luke's Lobster is returning to its New York roots for the company's first new brick-and-mortar since laying anchor at the Portland Pier three years ago

The lobster retailer and restaurant chain, founded by Luke Holden and Ben Conniff in 2009 with a location in Manhattan's East Village, is set to open its newest eatery July 20 at Grand Central Terminal train station, 2 miles uptown. The cathedral-like landmark, which dates to 1913, houses 60 shops and 35 places to eat.

Still in the build-out phase, the future Luke's Lobster Grand Central is an open-concept design with 52 seats, some of which are original, wooden train-station benches, and an additional 10 bar seats in the 1,200-square-foot lower-level concourse.

"We're honored to share space in such an iconic landmark," said Luke Holden, the company's founder and CEO. "I started the company and spent almost a decade in NYC. Luke's has become a place where New Yorkers go to celebrate the everyday — nailing a big presentation, learning about your college acceptance, ending your first day on the job or meeting friends for happy hour on a long weekend.

"Now, in addition to that," he said, "we hope to simply be the start to the finish of the day — a good bite, sip or snack on the way home. A bright spot in the daily commute."

Luke's Lobster currently has seven lobster shacks in New York City and 18 nationwide, and the Grand Central location will be less than a mile from Luke's Lobster's biggest shack in the Big Apple, at 207 East 43rd St.

The new eatery, set to be open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., will include a full bar with a new craft beer on the menu called Luke's Light, a classic kolsch collaboration with Portland's Peak Organic Brewing Co.

"There's a Pavlovian response that's universal to folks cracking open a beer at the end of a long day of work," said Ben Conniff, Luke's Lobster's co-founder and chief innovation officer.

"For lobstermen, it's after you've unloaded your last trip, refueled, and tied up your last trap. For NYC commuters, it's the moment you find your seat on the train. In both cases, the 'psssfftt' sound of the beer cracking open tells your body and mind to relax, another day's haul is done. Luke's is now proud to be a part of that moment."

Hand holding a cocktail in a plastic cup over water and a pier with lobster traps
Courtesy / Luke's Lobster
The Maine Blueberry Mojito, currently available only at Luke's Lobster in Portland, will be on the menu at Luke's Grand Central, albeit with a different cup and garnish.

Luke's Grand Central drinks menu will also feature a variation of the Maine Blueberry Mojito that is currently available only at Luke's on the Portland Pier. Made from Maine wild blueberries, the beverage is the result of a collaboration with Wyman's, of Milbridge. 

Luke's Lobster currently employs 280 people nationwide including 153 in Maine, according to a spokeswoman.

Holden, a native of Cape Elizabeth, was honored on the Mainebiz Next List in 2021 for his contributions to Maine's economy.

In the early months of the pandemic, as COVID-19 shuttered restaurants and overseas markets, Holden led the expansion of the company's branded grocery line and the creation of an online seafood market for fishermen to sell their catch.

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