This 12-pound lobster named LJ was “officially” pardoned and sent back to Maine, uneaten. It was a different story for the blue-points.
The happy occasion for the lobster and for city seafood lovers was the grand opening Wednesday of Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale restaurant at Long Wharf in the harbor-side building that previously housed the Rusty Scupper and Leon’s.
Three dozen people gathered there at noon for the ribbon-cutting, including Noel Bishop, the first selectman of Westbrook, on the shoreline. That’s where Lenny and Joe Goldberg for decades have operated a family restaurant whose style and menu are the model for New Haven’s.
The New Haven eatery has been open for three weeks and is already drawing crowds, especially in the after-work hours, the brothers reported.
Bishop praised the brothers for running a small business that serves up not only good food and good service. “They’re great community citizens,” he said.
He also confessed that in all his public, speech-making life he had never before pardoned a lobster. He struggled for deep thoughts and then intoned, “I’m glad it’s going back to Maine.”
The Goldbergs, who were born on Barnett Street in Westville and grew up in Hamden, described their newest venture as a return to their roots. They remembered coming into town to see shows at the old Roger Sherman Theater, going to now long-gone restaurants on Whalley such as Al’s and Chucks, and attending boring B’nai Brith dances at the Jewish Center, when it was on Chapel Street, in order to meet girls.
In New Haven, they said, they intend to serve up the same affordable, and friendly fare and practice the same community involvement that has helped get them a loyal following in Westbrook and in Madison, where they opened their first seafood “shack” back in 1979.
Joe Goldberg, who is 18 months older than Lenny, said they have had their eye on the location for years. Joe described it as a “gateway” with the confluence of I-91 and I-95. The harbor view makes every table a great table, he claimed.
That New Haven is trying to develop its waterfront as more of a destination —Joe pointed in particular to the up-and-coming restoration of the old boat house at Canal Dock—was also a factor in the decision to take up the space after Leon’s relocated to North Haven. Click here for a New Haven Register article on that move.
The Goldbergs’ short-term plans include maybe having a wagon with ices on the courtyard for patrons waiting on line Within a few years he’d also like to see boaters be able to dock near the restaurant and come up to eat, but that’s years away.
They’d also like to expand the raw bar to serve a wider variety of oysters, in keeping with New Haven’s and especially Fair Haven’s oystering heritage, Joe said.
In the not too distant future, “we hope someone [behind the bar at the restaurant] will wear a loincloth apron and put on a good shucking show,” Joe said.