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PORTLAND — Craving a lobster taco or fresh oysters?
The new Linda Kate Lobster & Seafood Co. store on the Portland-Falmouth line may have what you desire.
Chef Sam Bergeron has partnered with the Nappis, a Falmouth-based lobstering family, to add catering and prepared foods to the Nappis’ wholesale operation at 1035 Ocean Ave.
The retail store offers fresh lobster, crab and shellfish, and a limited take-out menu that, along with lobster tacos, includes clam chowder, a summer crab salad and more.
In addition to the retail store, Bergeron is also running a catering operation, which offers traditional lobster bakes, raw bars and curated platters “for any type of work, family or life event,” according to the company.
Linda Kate Lobster, owned by father-and-son duo Nick and Brent Nappi and named for Nick’s late wife, first began supplying local restaurants with freshly hauled lobster and other seafood in 2009.
Bergeron met the pair when he was the chef of Cafe Stroudwater at the Embassy Suites Hotel, based at the Portland International Jetport.
“I was one of their original customers and we got to know each other well,” Bergeron said. He even went lobstering with the Nappis to learn more about the process.
Bergeron moved on to other restaurants and lost touch with the Nappis for a while, but he never forgot their early discussions about partnering to bring something different to the local seafood scene.
“By the time I got back in touch with them, they had purchased a wholesale warehouse and were ready to build a commercial kitchen to do catering and to spin out into a retail (operation),” he said.
Although Bergeron is not a Maine native, he said opening Linda Kate Lobster & Seafood makes him “feel like a true Mainer.”
Bergeron said he had to be “super creative” with the menu at Linda Kate because zoning restrictions allow him to use only seafood that’s brought in through the wholesale side of the business.
“I had to really think, ‘What else can we do?’” he said. That’s when he came up with lobster tacos, along with fried oyster tacos and a twist on the traditional lobster and crab roll.
“We’re really excited to bring this (service) to the area,” Bergeron said. “A lot of traffic goes through here and we’ve got great exposure.”
He doesn’t have any fish available for sale yet, but does offer Damariscotta River oysters, along with local mussels and clams. In addition to live lobster, Linda Kate Lobster & Seafood also offers shelled lobster and crab meat.
Since opening on July 1, Bergeron said there’s been “a lot of interest” and “a lot of talk” about us in the neighborhood. So far, he said, “We’re getting a lot of support.”
What makes Linda Kate different, Bergeron said, is, “We keep all our sourcing as close (to home) as possible and we sell about 60 percent of our own catch.”
“The difference is also in how we handle the (catch) when it comes out of the water,” he said. “We have (special tanks) that keep the lobster chilled to 40 degrees, the same temperature as the bottom of the ocean.”
As a classically trained chef, Bergeron said, “I hold myself to a high standard, particularly when it comes to the menu. We want to be different.”
Chef Sam Bergeron at Linda Kate Lobster & Seafood, 1035 Ocean Ave. in Portland, where the menu includes lobster or crab rolls and tacos.