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Freeport BBQ hopes to light a fire under lobster industry

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Freeport BBQ hopes to light a fire under lobster industry

FREEPORT — Buck's Naked BBQ will add lobster to its menu to support and promote local lobstermen and celebrate the lobster industry. The celebration will take place Friday, Aug. 14 with an outdoor lobster dinner to benefit the Maine Lobster Promotion Council.

Wendy Caisse, co-owner of Buck's with her husband Alex, said the idea came from a combination of their love of creating unique food and their desire to support local lobstermen in a tough economy.

"We are trying to raise awareness, have fun, and help people we know who are having a difficult time," Caisse said.

With lobster prices so low, she said some of their friends who trap lobsters for a living are struggling, and they wanted to help.

"We thought this would be a good way to promote the sale of lobster, help our friends, and spread the word about lobster," she said.

The couple said they actively support local groups and causes because they enjoy helping the community. In addition to owning a restaurant, Caisse is a member of the Planning Board and the Freeport Economic Development Corp. They own the 1912 Cafe at the L.L. Bean flagship store, and plan to open another Buck's BBQ in Windham in 2010.

"So many people have given us support, it feels right to give back," Caisse said. "As a business owner, you can't just reap the rewards and walk away from those in need."

She said Alex is passionate about cooking and smoking  meats, and he has found a way to impart the traditional smokey flavor into the delicate meat of lobster.

"We hope to remove the stigma associated with lobster that it is only a special-occasion food," she said. "It's so good, people should have it on a Wednesday night."

Some of the proceeds of the event will benefit the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, an organization founded by the lobster industry to promote Maine lobster worldwide, and funded by lobster license holders.

Caisse said they could have supported the sale of Maine lobster in a number of ways, but the promotion council was a good place to start because "if no one is buying lobsters, there's nothing to conserve."

Marianne LaCroix, director of marketing for the MLPC, said the council appreciates the support from the Freeport restaurant. She said by buying from local lobstermen and making a donation to the MLPC, Buck's is giving the not-for-profit organization, which is otherwise funded almost entirely by lobster license holders, additional help that is always welcome.

"Having a restaurant like Buck's serve lobster is great," LaCroix said. "Restaurant support is not common for us, but is greatly appreciated."

Sande Updegraph, director of the Freeport Economic Development Corp., said the Buck's lobster dinner is an interesting way to promote local food.

"This is an uplifting approach to helping lobstermen," Updegraph said. "Buck's gets to expand its menu, customers benefit from those menu items, and lobstermen benefit from the sale of their product. This is a great value for everyone."

Caisse said the party on Aug. 14 starts at 4 p.m. and is just the beginning of new menu items.

"This is a kick-off, an introduction to a new product," she said. "There is more to come."

Buck's will use local lobsters and will donate at least $5 of every meal served to the MLPC. Caisse said the tickets will be around $20 for a single lobster dinner with sides and around $25 for a double dinner.

There will also be specials during the party.

"How does lobster quesadilla sound?," she said.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.