The Lobster Claw Celebrates 50 Seasons of Fabulous Seafood

Fifty seasons, by any stretch, is a long life for a small business on Cape Cod. For a family-run seafood restaurant, it’s a spectacular life. And The Lobster Claw, in Orleans, has 50 wonderful reasons to celebrate its Golden Anniversary this summer!

Originally purchased by Don and Marylou Berig in 1970, The Lobster Claw restaurant has been a staple (from April to October) for both summer visitors and year-round residents for decades. The menu, which offers a wide variety of seafood options, as well as burgers, chicken and other delicious alternatives, has remained largely the same since day one. The Berigs have always pushed to market their restaurant as one that welcomes families.

“In the very beginning, we really had more adults coming in,” Don said. “But I wanted to get the point across that it was a family restaurant … so my kids, who were small at that time, would go to the local radio station and read a script saying, ‘Come visit my dad’s restaurant’.”
As a result, families did come. In fact, parents came in with their children, then their children came in as adults, and now their grandchildren come in. Generations of families have both worked there and dined there.

Don had first worked as an accountant for the restaurant before purchasing it. At that time, he said, the owners were serving fish that had been previously frozen on paper plates. “The first thing I did was change that,” he said. “They (the previous owners) had a different concept. They wanted to get you as a customer one time. I wanted to get you for the next 15 or 20 years.”

The food at The Lobster Claw is famous in these parts for its freshness and flavor. “Our lobster rolls have been named the best lobster rolls on the Cape for several years. Another favorite is the fisherman’s platter. It’s almost impossible to finish,” he said. The onion rings, which are cut fresh every day, and chowder are both very popular with customers. The varied menu always offers fresh seafood, including boiled and baked stuffed lobster, steamed clams, fresh swordfish, haddock, salmon and other native fish.

The gift shop, which has been open for 40 years, Don said, really helps keep children entertained. An unusual addition to most restaurants, this one has kept kids enthralled for ages. “If you give the kids five or 10 minutes in here to unwind and distract themselves, it really helps everything go smoothly for the whole family. It’s a great diversion for them for a little while. Even if they don’t buy anything, at least they get to enjoy themselves.”

Don credits the success of the restaurant to three things: cleanliness and décor, excellent food, and great employees. The kitchen gets steam cleaned every day. The booths are freshly painted. And everything is washed and ready when it’s time to open. “I want it to look in September the same way it looks in April,” he added.

“The minute people walk in, they’re impressed with the cleanliness and detail. Everything is the same 50 years later, that it was back then. Next is the food. And finally, my wait staff – my employees are second to none. They never leave! I’ve had families who’ve been coming back for 20 years. My hostess has been here for 50 years,” he said.

The restaurant’s footprint has changed and expanded over the years, allowing for more seating. The wall murals were painted by Sidewalk Sam, a Boston muralist, about 25 years ago. Much of the décor is original. The nautical touches are charming and whimsical. One of the murals, the sea captain near the kitchen, was painted with Don’s own face. Upstairs, is a function area that can seat around 60 people, and is popular for wedding rehearsal dinners, family reunions and work events. The whole downstairs restaurant seats 221 comfortably.

People have been coming to The Lobster Claw for these last decades from all corners of the country, and from across the globe, as they seek to experience all the amazingness that the Cape has to offer. The most famous customer to visit the restaurant, Don said, was the late former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, along with his wife, Millie.

What should we expect of The Lobster Claw in 10 years? Will it still be here, serving up fresh deliciousness? One can certainly hope so!
“Hopefully, they’ll doing the same thing with a different owner,” Don said. “I’m going to be 80 years old this summer, and I’m here seven days a week, for 15 hours a day.” That’s just a whole other level of dedication to one’s passion, and a much-appreciated one.

Whether you are a returning customer or are planning on visiting for the first time for its 50th season, you’ll feel right at home at The Lobster Claw. To view the menu, visit, or just visit in person. You’ll be glad you did.

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About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.
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