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Thursday, September 20 Business

Lobster food truck finds permanent home in Fairfield

After 16 years as a commercial lobster fisherman and seven years working out of food trucks, Michael Harden is putting down roots.

When the lobster population in Long Island Sound took a dramatic fall, Harden said his wife encouraged him to start his business cooking and selling lobster rolls. That has led to the opening of LobsterCraft restaurant at 1891 Post Road in Fairfield.

“There’s nothing that I love more than being out on the water fishing, but being at the front counter, making people happy and making a really good roll is a really close second, so we’re having a good time at it,” Harden said.

Harden opened his first food truck in 2012 and a second one two years later. Since starting the business, both trucks have traveled along the coast of Connecticut and beyond, catering events across three states.

“We’re not afraid of going anywhere,” Harden said. He has catered festivals, parties and corporate events in Connecticut, Westchester County, N.Y., and Misquamicut, R.I.

While running his food trucks has been successful, Harden said opening a restaurant has long been a goal. With a small kitchen space and a “grab-and-go” model, he also uses the space to support his trucks.

Harden said he expects business to pick up in the spring. Customers can choose from a variety of lobster-inspired dishes, including macaroni and cheese, grilled cheeses and a lobster bisque that Harden said has become a hit.

Even with a slow winter, Harden said he is optimistic for what lies ahead, considering the turnout for his grand opening.

“We sold out Saturday,” Harden said. “We were supposed to be open until 6 p.m. and we closed at 4 p.m. We were sold out.”

Harden cracks and packages around 500 lobsters weekly, but he said that number may double to meet the projected demand. “If that’s a look of what’s coming, we’re going to be busy,” Harden said. He has plans to keep drawing crowds with weekend lobster bakes.

According to the Norwalk resident, customers will be able to get a bucket of lobsters, clams, oysters and more that they can enjoy outside.

“We’re going to set up a bunch of picnic tables and have you and the family just come out and grab a bucket of food and sit out there,” Harden said.

Harden said he would like to expand the shop to have more seating for his customers to dine in.

LobsterCraft is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is also featured on GrubHub. According to Harden, when the weather heats up he plans to extend his hours to around 9 p.m., meeting recent demand for a dinner shift.

jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @JordanEGrice

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