Young and Hungry

Red Hook Lobster Pound Finds Street Vending Easier in D.C. Than NYC

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This may be a first: A Brooklyn lobster vendor is planning to launch a street truck in D.C. because our bureaucracy is easier to deal with.

So says Susan Povich, co-owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn, who told the New York Times earlier this week that she's given up on the burdensome Big Apple bureaucracy in favor of ours. Her quote must be music to the ears of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which has been working for years to make it easier for street vendors to set up shop:

“I wanted a truck in New York,” Ms. Povich said. “But it is just an impossible prospect given the licensing and turf wars.” In Washington, she continued, “it’s a great time to get in at the beginning, and we figure that we have at least two more years with a bunch of transplanted Ivy League New Englanders in the government aching for a lobster roll.”

I briefly chatted with Ralph Gorham, Povich's husband, who's so sidewalk-spitting mad about New York bureaucracy he couldn't even talk on the record. He left the PR chores to his wife, who was traveling today and unavailable. I also have a call into DCRA to see where in the permitting and licensing process Red Hook is. More on that as I know it.

I do know this: The mere promise of fresh Maine lobsters on our streets has caused many of us in the food-writing community to start drooling, Pavlovian style, over the buttery rolls to come. The Going Out Gurus has more about Red Hook's frustration with NYC bureaucracy as well as Povich's D.C. connection: her grandfather was the late Post sportswriter Shirley Povich.

Now, if you want to understand why New Yorkers bow before Red Hook with an almost religious servility, just read this outtake from Florence Fabricant's short item in the Times last year:

Mr. Gorham (above), who also makes tables from recycled wood, drives round-trip to Kittery, Me., on Thursdays to buy up to 1,000 pounds of fresh lobsters off the boats. He does not buy lobsters from pounds, where they may have been lolling in the water for days or weeks, shedding flavor and texture.

His lobsters go on sale Friday at noon; by Sunday evening, when he and his wife close, they are usually all gone...

There is, however, one stick in the mud about this Red Hook invasion. District Plates would like to know why everyone is getting all red, hot and bothered about this Northern carpetbagger when we have a great Maryland seafood delicacy right in front of our faces. Good question.

By the way, you can get a sneak preview of Red Hook Lobster Pound next weekend at the Azalea Garden Festival in Bethesda. Douglas Povich, the cousin of Susan and the man behind the local truck, will be showcasing the rolls to come on D.C.'s streets.

  • JV

    What great MD seafood delicacy do we have right in front of our eyes? All those so-called "Maryland Crabs" are from Louisiana or southeast Asia! The Bay has not put out decent crab #s since I was a kid in the '80s.

  • Pear

    "There is, however, one stick in the mud about this Red Hook invasion. District Plates would like to know why everyone is getting all red, hot and bothered about this Northern carpetbagger when we have a great Maryland seafood delicacy right in front of our faces. Good question."

    Because I've never been to Maine and I love lobster rolls!! Having said that, my love affair with MD Blue Crabs will never end.

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