In the mid-70’s, a young married couple decided to bring a piece of Maine to New York City through the romantic notion of eating bright red crustaceans. And so, The Lobster Place was born. At the time, they sold their lobsters out of a tiny shop on the Upper West Side, making continuous drives to Portland, Maine to pick up loads of lobster, 1,000 pounds at a time.

Decades later, The Lobster Place has three locations and provides seafood to the world’s top chefs and New York’s finest restaurants, including Jean Georges’ restaurants, the Mermaid Inn, and the Four Seasons Restaurant. The married couple has relocated to Maine permanently and the business is now run by the next generation, their son, Ian MacGregor.

Ian took over The Lobster Place in 2002, nearly ten years after his father moved the business to Chelsea in mid-90’s, when the area was better known for dodgy characters and drug busts. Today, they are flourishing with their Chelsea Market location, a wholesale facility at the New Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point, and a stand-alone retail outlet on Bleecker Street.


We asked Ian about operating a seafood business at a time when sustainability has become such an enormous buzzword. He said the philosophy of The Lobster Place is professionalism, integrity, and quality that brings return customers. Ian feels there is currently too much misinformation out there confusing shoppers.  He cites the example of swordfish, which is often thought to be endangered. The swordfish at The Lobster Place is caught off the coast of New Jersey and is not only populating well, but selling at historically low prices. Fish that are endangered are illegal to catch.

The meat industry is regulated by the F.D.A. and operates as a good consumer watchdog, but there is no equivalent in the seafood industry. So there is enormous opportunity for companies to take advantage of grey areas for their own marketing benefits, like adding the word organic when there really isn’t any real organic certification. Ian recommends people look at the N.O.A.A. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) website for unbiased information. He also suggested asking questions of your fish monger; at the Lobster Place, Brendon Hayes is the retail operations director, who is the resident knowledgeable resource.

Buying Fresh Fish

What about some of the urban fish myths, like don’t buy fish on a Sunday or Monday? Ian explained that (good or bad) fish comes from all over the world and fisherman are out to sea fishing for weeks at a time. So, the day you show up in your local fish store should not really impact the freshness of your fish. More important is to look for a place that has busy turnover.

To get the freshest fish:

- buy it whole - whole fish keep longer.

When buying whole fish:

- it should look as alive as possible

- eyes should be clear

- scales and skin should be shimmering - even a little slime on the surface is good

- gills should be dark and bright, not pale or turning brown

  1. -flesh should spring back when poked

- you’ll know a fish is old if it is mushy and leaves an indentation

- odor should smell like the ocean, not like dead fish. 

If fish has been already filleted, look for:

- moistness

- the fish should glisten

- color consistency

- unbroken flesh.

Beware of:

- dryness: if it is dried out, it’s bad

- discolored edges: if the edges are grey or green, it is on its way to out

- grocery store misting machines: it could be a ploy to make fish look more moist than they actually are.

Trusting and supporting your local purveyor, whether its meat, vegetables, wine, or fish, is key for acquiring the best food and drink. The Lobster Place is worth becoming your local fish monger for its variety, turnover, and freshness. Pick out a whole fish, ask them to clean it, take it home, and simply roast it. It’s hard to get a better experience than that.


2 locations (Chelsea, West Village):

436 West 16th Street

New York, NY 10011 (view map)

T: 212.255.5672

252 Bleecker Street

New York, NY 10014 (view map)

T: 212.352.8063





Mon - Fri: 9:30am - 9:00pm

Sat: 9:30am - 8:00pm
Sun: 10:00am - 7:00pm


National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):


Seafood and sushi restaurant recommendations from the fish guys at The Lobster Place.



Seafood and sushi restaurant recommendations from the fish guys at The Lobster Place.