Luke’s Lobster is a brand that’s known around the world. With brick-and-mortar locations from Singapore to Maine and a presence in grocery stores nationwide, Luke’s has grown into a household name. And it all got its start through Craigslist.
Ben Conniff, a then-writer looking to crack into the restaurant world, answered an ad from Luke Holden, a Mainer working on Wall Street who was looking to bring a taste of New England to the city. The two hit it off and worked together to open a lobster shack in the East Village.
With those humble origins, the duo and their team set off on a mission to serve great-tasting lobster that was good for people’s wallets and good for the environment. And they’ve held true to that commitment today.
“Luke grew up in Maine,” said Ben. “He knew how important sustainability was to the Maine Lobster fishery. We both wanted to build something that was authentic to the Maine experience and to our shared values.”
As they’ve grown, the team has remained lockstep in their commitment. They invite every manager in the company on an annual trip to Maine. There, they take them out on a lobster boat, walk them through a lobster processing plant and talk to them about the importance of sustainability and their company values. Call it an initiation or a rite of passage, but for Ben, it’s what sets Luke’s Lobster apart.
“It’s a tradition,” says Ben. “After I first met Luke, he invited me to Maine to see what it was all about. I went on the lobster boat and into the processing plant. I saw what it meant to be a part of the Maine Lobster fishery. It’s not just a food, it’s a way of life for so many people, and I felt honored to be welcomed into it.”
Over the years, Luke and Ben have focused on different areas of the business to continue to nurture the spirit of the company and manage their growing team. For Ben, that’s included spearheading the company’s B Corp certification.
“Making a positive impact has always been important to us,” says Ben. “Filing to become a certified B Corp was a culmination of years of trying to do good for our communities and environment with lobster. We may not be the biggest company in the world, but knowing that we have set certain standards for ourselves can help us to make the most impact possible.”
The certification was just a first step. In addition to continually working to improve Luke’s Lobster’s sustainability and DE&I initiatives, Ben also helps other businesses through the B Corp certification process as well.
“As they say, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats,’” said Ben. “We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of some incredible people. Helping share what we know with the local businesses around us is the least we can do to help our neighbors.”
What is your favorite way to eat Maine Lobster?
“I know it sounds self-serving, but my favorite way is our traditional Maine Lobster roll –chilled lobster meat, just a tiny bit of mayo in the bun (not some gloopy lobster salad) and a kiss of lemon butter on top, all cradled in a buttered, griddled split-top bun.”
What is the best part of living in Maine?
“It’s a tough contest between the natural beauty and the people. Having lived for too long in New York City, the ease of getting out on the water or off in the woods and mountains is incredible. But equally refreshing is the patience, empathy and honest desire to help that Mainers display every day.”
What makes you proud to go to work every day?
“The quality of our product is always a motivation for me – I’d never want to work making or selling a product that I didn’t believe was the best in the world.”
What is special to you about Maine Lobster or the Maine Lobster fishery?
“The dedication. There’s a great pride that runs through everyone in this industry of the work they do and the amazing results.”
Meet The People Behind the Fishery
A diverse group of people passionate about Maine and the lobster industry.