Red Hook Lobster Pound was born at a kitchen table in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the midst of the recession by Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich in 2008. The two were devouring the fresh lobsters they’d just brought back from a friend in Portland, Maine. As they basked in the lobsterphoria, Ralph proposed a crazy idea to his wife, Susan: “Let’s open up a Lobster Pound!”
Red Hook was a natural location for a fish business—and the couple just happened to own a then-empty storefront right on Van Brunt Street. This section of Brooklyn is reminiscent of the lobstering communities of Maine for a variety of reasons. Aside from being on the waterfront, it’s inhabited by fiercely independent do-it-yourselfers who’ve developed a supportive community being cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the BQE.
Susan and Ralph both had the backgrounds to make this idea work. Susan’s family was from Maine and after attending culinary school she worked in some of the top kitchens throughout NYC. Ralph’s always been creative, resourceful, and good with his hands. Plus, he had experience on the docks of South Boston, his native city.
Here you can see their two kids back when they were still OK with being called kids!
In April 2009, The Red Hook Lobster Pound opened and quickly became the food success story of the year. Since doors opened, people have traveled hundreds of miles or more to Red Hook to sample the freshest Maine lobster in this incredibly special part of NYC.
Red Hook Lobster was one of the very first food vendors at the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, and quickly expanded to other pop up markets. In 2011, they introduced their brand-new lobster roll food truck and named her Big Red. She was crowned the “Best Food Truck in America” by the Daily Meal in June 2013, out of 400 trucks nationwide.
On October 29th, 2012, Hurricane Sandy touched down in New York and the restaurant suffered debilitating damage along with the entire neighborhood. With the help of their community, the Lobster Pound was rebuilt to better sustain itself and after 4 months of hard work, it roared back open to serve its first post-Sandy lobster roll on March 1, 2013 to the Mayor.
Since 2013, The Red Hook Lobster Pound has expanded into Midtown, Manhattan at Urbanspace Vanderbilt food hall and launched the summer concession, Rockaway Clam Bar at Jacob Riis Beach in Rockaway Beach NY.
Susan and Ralph maintain close relationships with the best lobstermen in Maine to ensure only the finest crustaceans are handpicked for all those trekking to this unique dining destination. And the team they’ve put in place to manage the daily operations have become apart of the extended family with a passion for great food and top-notch hospitality.
Susan, Ralph, and their kids, can still be found at the Red Hook Location, building rolls, seating diners, repairing froze machines, or just getting to know their guests who come from near and far to make sure that each lobster roll is as delicious as the first one they made.