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Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, Mass., Proves There is a Santa Claws For Lobster Roll Lovers

This small neighborhood food spot delivers big-time by setting a new standard with its lobster rolls

Two If By Sea lobster roll from Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, MA.
Overflowing lobster roll from Lobstah On A Roll.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 6/29/2019.

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There are many fish in the sea when it comes to New England eateries serving lobster rolls but few quite as unique, wonderful and tasty as Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, Mass.

Calling itself the "Biggest Little Restaurant in America," Lobstah On A Roll specializes in oversized lobster rolls. No, not the kind that will maybe satiate the appetite of one or two moderately hungry individuals but, in this case, as many as 50 people. "The Monstah," as pictured below, is a five ft. long lobster roll with about 16 lbs. of lobster meat. (call three days in advance for this one!).

Chef Kevin Dupree showcases a lobster roll from Lobstah On A Roll in Salem and Boston, Mass.
Kenny Dupree, chef and co-owner at Lobstah On A Roll, showcases a huge lobster roll. Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

Even the six-inch lobster roll can be a challenge for just one person to finish as so much lobster meat is packed in, and overflowing out of the roll. The lobster rolls can also be ordered New England-style with a touch of mayonnaise or Connecticut -style with warm butter. Some people prefer the lobster roll with just butter lettuce added to the lobster meat to add some sweetness.

Lobstah On A Roll goes through about 550 lbs. of lobster meat on a busy week leaving no essential part of the lobster unturned in its lobster rolls: whole knuckle, claw and split tail meat. With its restaurant name as an ode to the traditional Boston grammatical ommision of leaving "Rs" out of words, nothing is left out of the lobster rolls here. Ultimately, no one leaves Lobstah On A Roll hungry.

"I'm a big guy so if I can handle it, you'll be all right," said Kenny Dupree, 39, head chef and co-owner of Lobstah On A Roll.

While "The Monstah" could seemingly serve a small village, Lobstah On A Roll also offers "smaller" portions, relatively speaking...

"The Standahd"
Six-inch roll with six-and-one-half ounces of lobster meat

"Two if by Sea"
Six-inch roll with twice the meat

"Big Papi"
A lobster roll for four

"The Triple"
A three-footer (requires three days advanced notice)

"The Quad"
 A four-footer (also requires three days advanced notice)

Lobstah On A Roll also use a delicious sweet Challah bread -- brought in fresh from OMG Bakery in Framingham, Mass. -- instead of the traditional hot dog roll for its huge lobster rolls. Challah is traditionally used for Jewish events, celebrations and holidays but here the compatibly sweet combination of the Challah Bread and lobster meat will have one saying after this grand New England culinary experience "Oy ve, what a great day!"

Challah bread used for lobster rolls at Lobstah On A Roll in Salem and Boston, Mass.
David Spinney (co-owner of Lobstah On A Roll) and Kenny bring in the Challah bread.
Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

"Anyone can do a hot dog roll," said Kenny. "We like to think differently. The Challah bread is so sweet and combines perfectly with the lobster."

Kenny has a few steadfast rules when creating lobster rolls that might get a few jeers from competitors set in their ways and a huge round of cheers from customers who simply want great taste and big portions when it comes to paying for a lobster roll.

"It is most important to keep the price down," said Kenny. "The lobster doesn't need to be just hardshells. We bring in lobster from Boston to Maine. The quality of lobster is not solely dependent on location. It just doesn't need to come just from Maine. We then need to be spot on with the temperature keeping by things consistent and knowing what to do with the lobster. You won't find any dried out lobster here."

As one of the other signature menu items, the New England clam chowder surely ranks amongst the best this writer has tried in New England. Similar to the renowned New England clam chowder at CabbyShack in Plymouth, Mass., the thickness, flavor and ample amounts of clams result in something that customers make sure to order along with the lobster rolls (or on its own). Some customers also love dunking the lobster meat in the chowder for a nice combination of regional flavors.

The Lobstah On A Roll New England clam chowder comes from an old-time recipe in Kenny's family.

"I remember my grandpa used to shuck clams when being at the Cape (Cod) every summer," said Kenny. "That was the base for the chowder to be made. It was actually his father who came up with the recipe so it is like 100-years old. We don't use bacon in the chowder, by the way. Some people do not want a pork product in the chowder and we can come up with a great taste without it."

New England clam chowder from Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, Mass.

New England clam chowder from Lobstah On A Roll.

Lobstah On A Roll is not just about huge lobster rolls and New England clam chowder, however. They offer on its menu breakfast sandwiches, huge signature sandwiches (including the prime rib sandwich on the weekend), jumbo lump crab cakes, salads, baked stuffed lobster (when available) lobster mac and cheese, lobster tacos and lobster bisque with real chunks of lobster instead of the typical liquefied version. There's definitely something for everyone here.

Menu from Lobstah On A Roll in Salem and Boston, MA.
Board menu at Lobstah On A Roll in Salem.

The Salem Lobstah On A Roll will soon have a seasonal liquor license (probably in July), as well as serving Soc's ice cream. Soc's is based out of Saugus, Mass. and has been renowned in the area many decades for offering fabulous homemade ice cream.

How Did This Monstah of a Business Start?

David Spinney, Kenny Dupree and Joe Marcus owners of Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, Massachusetts.
David, Kenny and Joe. Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

Long-time friends Joe Marcus, 60, and David Spinney, 55, sought change in the seventh inning stretch of their professional careers. Joe, a Danvers, Mass., native worked many years in the automobile dealership industry while David worked the same field, as well as establishing himself in the commercial real estate industry. Wanting to build a better "lobster trap," Joe and David came up with the idea in the summer of 2017 of owning a lobster roll eatery far different than local competitors. Marcus and Spinney soon teamed up with Kenny, a veteran of the restaurant industry who worked at the former Ladonna Restaurant and Cafe in Mansfield, Mass. and helped opened a Capital Grille in Las Vegas, Nev. He also ran a few country clubs and several taverns in the Las Vegas area. Kenny also worked in the restaurant industry in Savannah, Ga., but eventually felt it was time to come home as the place to raise a family and reconnect with loved ones.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago, Kenny, Joe and David found each other, en route to opening Lobstah On A Roll.

"We put out an ad looking for a chef and Kenny responded," said David, a Reading, Mass., native now living in Woburn. "We clicked right away."

Joe, David and Kenny quickly rose above sea level, in a business sense, by taking over the former Emma'a Pizza location at 537 Columbus Ave. in the South End of Boston in Nov. 2017 and then expanding with its Salem spot in April 2019.

Lobstah On A Roll  at 537 Columbus Ave. in Boston, Mass.
The Boston location in the South End.
Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

Although being the sandwich shop version of those suddenly in-vogue tiny homes, the Boston location has a wonderful sense of community. Regulars from the South End neighborhood frequent the place (including Lucy the neighborhood dog outside looking for some attention and bacon). Kenny, David and Joe get to know customers (and neighborhood pet) names and do not forget them.

"The food is great here, but the service is most important," said Kenny. "While we are extremely busy, we enjoy the interaction. When a couple from New York once came in, they were shocked that we remembered their names from a year back. That's what separates us from competitors. We make this an experience. We want to make customers walk away and say 'Those guys care.' We talk about everything, even other restaurants!"

Joe, Kenny and Marcus now have a chance to do the same in Salem within relatively more spacious surroundings. Located on the outskirts of downtown Salem, the newest Lobstah On A Roll features white brick walls with pictures of New England, exposed pipes, booths, tables with swivel stools, wood tables, and an order-at-the-counter format.

Lobstah On A Roll in Salem, Mass.
The Salem Lobstah On A Roll location.

"We are getting many repeat customers from the Salem neighborhoods," said David. "It's an up-and-coming area, too, with a hotel opening across the street."

The Local Secret Is Out: Lobstah On A Roll Goes Global!

Hawaiian couple enjoys lobster rolls at Lobstah On A Roll in Boston, Mass.
Cyn and Jeff from Honolulu Hawaii made Lobstah On A Roll their last stop when visiting Boston. Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

The locals -- who know a good lobster roll when they see and taste one -- pack the Boston and Salem locations, metaphorically speaking, as much as the lobster meat in a roll and don't seem to care at all about the small sandwich shop size. The Boston Lobstah On A Roll offers eight seats inside and eight seats outside while the newer Salem spot has 35 seats inside and four tables out.

The secret is out, however, as not only locals have found out about Lobstah On A Roll but also visitors from all over the world. About 60 percent of Lobstah On A Roll's customers are tourists, according to David.

Here, Meta, Pamela and Jason, from Cleveland Ohio, traveled to Boston and made sure to try some of the fabulous food...

Guests from Clevland, Ohio, stop in to try some local food at Lobstah On A Roll in Boston, Mass.
Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

Sue and Zach from Annapolis Md., recently took a trip to New England and made sure to get into a regional food state of mind at Lobstah On A Roll. Looks like Joe was especially hungry...

Visitors from Maryland try out Lobstah On A Roll in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

Lara and Mo from England stopped by Lobstah On A Roll in Boston...

Guests from England at Lobstah On A Roll in the South End of Boston, MA.
Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

Julia, all the way from Munich, Germany, also enjoyed a lobster roll...

All the way from Germany and enjoying a lobster roll in Boston, Mass., at Lobstah On A Roll.
Photo source: Lobstah On A Roll Facebook fan page.

"We really enjoy getting to talk with people from all over the world," said David. "Some people come right from the airport with their luggage before ever checking into their hotels."


Huge lobster roll from Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, Mass.
Yummy, huge lobster roll.

If New England had its own version of Ripley's Believe It Or Not, or the Guinness Book of World Records, Lobstah On A Roll would surely have a place. The huge lobster rolls clearly stand out from anything else in the area -- that is the real attention-getter at the two humble little sandwich shops.

Or, is it? Customers always tend to look for the authentic, genuine place that not only serves great food but makes one feel welcome, also. What good is an eatery where the food might be outstanding but the service unpalatable? Locals and tourists have sensed Lobstah On A Roll as the real deal. All you have to do is look at the owners. David, Joe and Kenny wanted this business so badly that they made sacrifices to do so.

David went into this venture with an allergy to seafood ("We keep our costs down because David doesn't eat lobster," joked Kenny). Joe could have driven out the rest of his career in the auto industry. Kenny, with all that experience, could have held a more glamorous restaurant job. They chose, however, to serve huge lobster rolls while finding a connection to their customers.

"Everyone wants to be a rock star in this business," said Kenny. "You know, like with all the tattoos or to be like Gordon Ramsay. It's not a glamorous field in the real world, though. You sweep floors, do everything it takes to run a restaurant. That's why I am so glad to be here connecting with customers and creating all this great food (with Joe and David). We truly love what we do."

Boston location of Lobstah On A Roll: 537 Columbus Ave. Tel. (617) 903-4005.
Salem location of Lobstah On A Roll: 135 Lafayette St. Tel. (978) 594-8226
Web Site:
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook/

Also be sure to check out the fabulous reviews of Lobstah On A Roll at Yelp!

Looking to do a little gift shopping before or after eating at Lobstah On A Roll? Drive 35 minutes (in theory, the traffic can be a bear) from Boston or Salem to historical Lexington, Mass., to check out The Crafty Yankee.

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Lobstah On A Roll in Boston and Salem, Mass., creates lobster rolls up to five-feet long.

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