It’s a corker of a restaurant. Ayuh. No wonder it’s been around for nine decades. Beal’s Lobster Pier, overlooking Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, will celebrate its 90th anniversary this summer. The longstanding landmark restaurant has hosted visitors from around the world, and generations of families, who come for fresh-caught lobster (and other seafood), enjoyed within sight, sound, and scent of the ocean.
Harvard Beal started the company in 1932 as a wholesale fish market, with a year-round working fish and lobster pier. In 1969, the Beal family expanded the operation, opening the restaurant. In 2014, Stuart Snyder and Russ Bernard, frequent visitors to Maine and loyal Beal’s customers, purchased the restaurant. They’ve kept the winning formula: a casual come-as-you-are vibe, uber-fresh seafood delivered to their dock, and friendly service.
“We enjoy and appreciate seeing so many guests and friends who come year after year,” says Snyder. “It’s especially heartwarming and gratifying to host families who have been coming to Mount Desert Island and Beal’s for multiple generations.”
Snyder has many fond memories and stories to share, including a description of his most memorable guest. “There was one wonderful gentleman who called each morning and asked us to put aside the biggest lobster we had,” Snyder recalls. “For seven days straight, he would come in every evening around 6 p.m. for his lobster, usually 5 pounds or more, order a bottle of wine, and sit at the same table to enjoy his dinner.” Oh, what a week that must have been!
If you go, there’s indoor dining in the recently renovated second-floor dining room, with in-your-face water views. But if you can, snag a seat outdoors on the wharf for the full lobster-in-the-rough experience. The traditional lobster dinner served with corn, coleslaw, and cornbread is the most popular item on the menu. If you like, you can select your lobster from one of the tanks; BTW, the largest lobster served (so far) was 7½ pounds! Beal’s is also touted for their lobster rolls, served four ways. If you’re not a purist, try the spicy buffalo lobster roll or the deep-fried lobster po’ boy. Of course, lobster is the main draw — they go through more than 500,000 pounds a season — but there’s a full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers, too.
While you’re waiting for your food, take a walk down the pier to see the fishing boats dock and crews unload their catches. Seals often wait for scraps, and crabs scurry near the shoreline. You can also make a day of it. Beal’s has partnered with a local charter company that provides fishing excursions, departing from the pier. Or hop on a ferry from here to visit some of Maine’s Outer Islands.
182 Clark Point Road, Southwest Harbor, Maine, 207-244-3202, www.bealslobster.com. Open May-mid-October, daily 11-8; first come first served, reservations accepted for parties of 10 or more. Beal’s at Home offers online service, with live lobsters and fresh seafood delivered to your door.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com