All You Need to Know About the Lobster Pot

This photo is of the restaurant shortly after opening in the 1940’s. Courtesy of The Lobster Pot

On Cape Cod people and places come and go routinely. This is especially true when it comes to the restaurant industry. Change is a part of the dynamic when it comes to dining establishments in general. One can change to find more success and one can fail for not changing or changing too much. It takes a unique blend of the past and the future to make a strong establishment capable of becoming a staple of a community. Today on Cape Cod there are still a few such places and people in existence. These are the truly treasured commodity, the living history of Cape Cod.

At the tip of Cape Cod, in Provincetown, there is a piece of living Cape Cod history still going strong more than seventy years after opening. It is a restaurant that draws crowds every day it is open and whose food has drawn so much acclaim that its recipes even grace the pages of its own cookbook. It is The Lobster Pot and its neon sign has shone the way for eager patrons since 1943.

The iconic establishment at 321 Commercial Street had humble beginnings as many future legends do. The building itself was first home to the Colonial Tap, opened by Manuel Cook in 1937. It would move next door in 1943 becoming Old Colony Tap. The building would not be vacant for long as that very same year Ralph Medeiros and his wife Adeline opened the Lobster Pot. After Ralph passed away in 1965 Adeline remarried and kept the restaurant in the family until 1979. It was at this point that a second family would take over as Adeline sold the business to Joy McNulty.

The McNulty family were no strangers to Provincetown, having come to the tip of the Cape in 1972 and operating J’s Port of Call restaurant. The opportunity arose to become part of a new chapter of an established legend and after some careful consideration Joy McNulty purchased The Lobster Pot.

Over time Joy’s son Tim would become executive chef in 1982 and eventually owner. Under the careful management of the McNulty family The Lobster Pot would continue to improve, never resting on its laurels. Thusly it has cemented its place as a must for any visitor and a favorite of many a local. One such way that the restaurant improved was through the addition of a second floor bar called the Top of the Pot in 1990. It was seen as a perfect way to accommodate more guests and cut down some on the waiting line that so many gladly stood in to get their spot inside.

This is how the restaurant appeared around the time the McNulty family purchased it. Courtesy of The Lobster Pot

In 2000 and 2001 the kitchen was greatly renovated and expanded. This resulted in the need for a larger staff. Some of the staff are extended family members who began at the bottom and have worked their way to important positions. Today The Lobster Pot is thriving and satisfying hoards of hungry customers to the tune of up to 1,400 meals daily in season.

How has The Lobster Pot been able to thrive while countless restaurants have come and gone over the past seven decades? Marketing Manager of The Lobster Pot Mike Potenza tries his best to explain.

“It is the commitment we make to our dedicated staff and the attention we give to our customers,” Potenza says. “Our staff is immersed in the concept of participating with the same level of commitment the McNulty family exemplifies and everyone treats the business as if it were their own. We put a high value on everyone’s work and it fosters a sense of belonging that makes everything run that much better.”

The McNulty family, Potenza, and the staff also put a high value on maintaining their connection to the establishment’s past. It keeps regulars coming back year after year.

Baked Stuffed Lobsters photo courtesy of The Lobster Pot/Mike Potenza

“We continue going to great lengths to ensure every guest is treated with the respect and attention they deserve,” Potenza continues. “No part of the business goes without intense scrutiny to ensure that every aspect is being taken care of in the best possible manner from how we handle the volume of people to the food, beverages and beyond. We are always looking to improve and no detail is too small to ignore.”

With more than seventy years in business, innumerable accolades from customers, and a cookbook published in 2010, the question is does the staff at The Lobster Pot ever feel pressure to live up to their reputation as a living piece of Cape Cod history?

The classic lobster roll photo courtesy of The Lobster Pot/Mike Potenza

“The only pressure we feel is the drive to continue personifying excellence,” Potenza explains. “Commitment may be the most important aspect of our business. As a whole and as individuals, we love our work because of the environment we have created and the way we have been embraced by our customers. We do our best to ensure that everyone involved from the main office to the dish room feels like they are an important part of the operation and encourage everyone involved to show true pride in their work.”

A celebrated menu of seafood, steaks, and more. An iconic façade with a neon sign that is one of Cape Cod’s most recognizable images. Treating customers like family. A highly trained staff filled with extended family. These are only a few of the things that make The Lobster Pot one of the most distinguished places not only in Provincetown but all of Cape Cod. As long as the McNulty family, Mike Potenza, and the hardworking staff remain in place it is certain to only add to its legacy as a living piece of Cape Cod history.

By Christopher Setterlund
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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