Kittery Businessman Takes Bold Step Into The Seafood Business

When the former Weathervane seafood distribution center property on Badgers Island in Kittery became available, Kittery Trading Post owner Kevin Adams saw a business opportunity that would benefit the lobstering community and local economy. Through his vision, Maine Ocean Lobster was founded.
“I have been very fortunate to be a third-generation owner of the Kittery Trading Post. I’ve been blessed to have a successful life in great part because of the local people. When this property became available, I knew it was time to do something to give back to the community,” Adams said.
He purchased the property in 2015 with his partner in business and in life, Jen Watson. Together they then made significant upgrades to the plant, including upgrading the original holding tanks and chilling systems along with several other items. In April of last year, Adams, Watson and their team which includes Bob Adams and David Labbe, CFO of Kittery Trading Post, opened Maine Ocean Lobster, a fully operational wholesale lobster business. A waterfront restaurant on the premises, The Pointe, soon followed.
“Our goal all along was to keep this a working waterfront and protect it from private development. There are not many waterfront areas left here that are not condos. We felt it was important to preserve this waterfront area for the public. So far it has been win-win all the way around.”
Adams said, “Many of the local lobstermen bring their landings right to us by boat and those eating at the restaurant can watch them come in and unload. As of today, we do not buy Canadian lobster. All of our lobster is strictly from Maine and New Hampshire because we are so close to the border here in Kittery.  Right now, we purchase from fishermen as far North as Wells and we hope to stretch our buying area further up the coast as the demand allows. We guarantee to pay more for the catch and we have established a good working relationship with the fishermen because of that alone.” Adams said Maine Ocean Lobster currently purchases more than 10,000 pounds of lobster per day from local fishermen.
Jay Lehman is the front line manager at Maine Ocean Lobster. A former sternman with four years retail experience in the seafood business, he handles all of the buying and selling and manages the day-to-day operations such as grading lobster, arranging for deliveries and pick up and more. “We differ from many other wholesale buyers because we specialize in lobster alone. Our philosophy is if we start to deal with other seafood we won’t be able to be experts on our main focus. Our biggest point of pride is that we are always dealing direct and local. We process everything here, from picking to serving, and it’s done fresh to order. When people eat lobster at our restaurant it was most likely swimming in the ocean hours before.”
Though the company ships lobsters all over the United States, they do not ship overseas. “We figure the best grades and quality lobster are born and caught here  in the U.S., let’s eat them in the U.S.,” Lehman said.
Adams noted that live lobster from Maine Ocean Lobster is now also available at the Kittery Trading Post. “We have a holding tank there which serves a dual purpose as an educational display and a retail purchase center. Right now we are waiting on a permit to display a 13 pound lobster there for the public to see.”
In the spirit of the family business, Jen and Kevin’s children have recently come on board at the operation as well.  Zack Watson assists with daily management of Maine Ocean Lobster and Hayley Adams is part of the team at The Pointe.
The Pointe’s  menu includes offerings from executive chef Kevin Labell such as  vanilla butter poached Maine lobster, lobster wontons, seafood sauté, lobster rolls, chowders, land ittle neck clams. They also offer a variety of local fresh turf items, such as duck and potatoes, grilled steak, vegetarian dishes, and desserts. Adams said, “The Pointe keeps the sense of community alive. It has become a popular gathering spot for the locals, who know they are supporting their own when they eat here.”