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Lobster Roll-Obsessed Maine-ly Sandwiches Kickstarts to Stay Afloat

Is the New England-style in deep financial trouble?

Maine-ly Sandwiches original  north Houston location is in jeopardy of closing.
Maine-ly Sandwiches original north Houston location is in jeopardy of closing.
K.C. Taffinder/Flickr

Could Maine-ly Sandwiches, record holder for the world's largest lobster roll, be in danger of closing? That's what a Kickstarter campaign recently launched by the restaurant suggests.

Monday afternoon, owner Buddy Charity took to Facebook to ask customers for their support of his two-year-old New England-style restaurant. The message was followed by a link to a Kickstarter page titled Save "Houston's Lobster Roll Headquarters." Charity shares on the crowdsourcing site how he and wife, Angela,started Maine-ly Sandwiches, but they're now in need of capital (to the tune of $98,928) in order to keep the business open. Incentives provided to potential donors include a cup of clam chowder with a $25 donation, lobster bisque for $50 and an entire lobster roll for $150.

It didn't take long before many took notice. Some expressed their support of the restaurant in the comments on Facebook, while some took offense that the Maine native was essentially begging for money after several poor business judgements.

"Hopefully [it] will be my biggest mistake in the restaurant business," says Charity when reached for comment. Humbly acknowledging opening a third location in Kingwood last fall was a misstep, he further explains, "we carried losses too many months and that shrunk our capital." Charity closed the Kingwood outpost last month and hopes to avoid the same fate for the original Greenspoint location and Montrose restaurant. "Kickstarter is just about our only option for all of Maine-ly Sandwiches to survive," he says, which also includes the food truck launched last year.

So what will $98,928 cover? According to Charity, needed renovations and added room for frying clams and scallops. "If we were to raise enough capital, we would also be able to improve our kitchen with a real vent-a-hood," says the owner. The Maine-ly Sandwiches proprietor elaborated on the expenses to Houstonia magazine, noting his restaurant has two small fryers, one for fries and another for seafood. With the recent introduction of fried haddock and clams becoming an increasingly popular menu item, the addition is much needed.

Remaining optimistic, Charity backtracks on his previous comment to Eater, telling Houstonia if Kickstarter fails, his restaurant could possibly keep going. Maine-ly Sandwiches offers a unique niche to a city sorely lacking in lobster rolls and a dedicated New England restaurants. Hopefully, Charity can keep his concept going but if he doesn't reconsider his Kickstarter incentives and pitch, there's always Cousins Maine Lobsters or Lobster Roll Fridays at Bernie's Burger Bus.