Restaurant owners face off with McDonald's lobster roll

By Lydia Goerner | Jul 28, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Larry Senna, left, and Melissa Clements, owners of Cape Cod Lobster Rolls, have been serving fresh lobster for three years.

There’s a new lobster roll competitor in town this summer: McDonald’s.

McDonald’s is selling its lobster roll throughout New England for a limited time this summer, causing some local Wareham businesses to be wary of the competition.

Tom Strom, owner of Kool Kone in Wareham, said he thinks McDonald’s should stick to what they know and stay away from seafood menu additions.

“I don’t think they should let them do it,” Strom said. “They should leave the lobster for smaller companies and come up with something else.”

Kool Kone dishes up about 40 lobster rolls a day during this time of year, according to Strom. The restaurant, which offers around 200 menu items, has been serving Wareham residents for over 50 years with a simple lobster roll recipe.

“There’s really no rocket science to it,” Strom said. The lobster rolls are served on a grilled hot dog bun, the meat is mixed with mayonnaise and no celery or onions are added, keeping the roll's contents pure. The lobster meat is purchased from a supplier in Maine.

At $17 for a lobster roll, fries and homemade cole slaw, Strom said he thinks Kool Kone offers one of “the cheapest lobster rolls around.”

According to media relations at McDonald’s, their $8.99 version of the lobster roll is “freshly prepared” and made with 100 percent North Atlantic lobster meat. The roll is tossed with mayonnaise, layered on crisp leaf and shredded lettuce and served chilled on a toasted roll. This summer addition was introduced in New England in 1993 by McDonald’s and is a “seasonal favorite.”

Strom said he is dubious that McDonald’s really offers real lobster meat, but he believes a portion of tourists will still stop at McDonald’s for a lobster roll fix since it is convenient.

“Either you support the local chains or you support the local businesses,” Strom said.

Larry Senna, owner of Cape Cod Lobster Rolls in Onset, said he has no concerns about McDonald’s competition because his lobster rolls are made with “a lot of love.” Cape Cod Lobster Rolls opened three years ago and uses lobster meat from New Bedford and Buzzards Bay brought in fresh every morning to the shop.

Senna said his $15.95 lobster rolls, rated one of the top in America by Yelp, are loved because of the toasted and buttered roll and a little secret seasoning on the lobster meat. He’s not intimidated by corporations making their own version of the lobster roll.

“We kind of laughed when we heard the commercial for it,” Senna said. “They say they have real lobster, but that doesn’t mean it’s fresh.”

Business has been steady for Cape Cod Lobster Rolls, and Senna said he doesn’t think McDonald’s will take that away. Since the restaurant specializes in lobster, they buy it fresh daily and it is never canned or frozen. While Senna welcomes Wareham residents and visitors to try the McDonald's lobster roll if they are curious, he said he isn't worried it will lose him customers.

“Once you get a good roll, you’ll want to come back because it’s a night and day difference,” Senna said.

Comments (11)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 28, 2017 10:36

Competition is good, keeps prices in check.

Posted by: tesnobeach | Jul 28, 2017 11:27

No worries about the competition because the lobster rolls are not that good :( 

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Jul 28, 2017 13:08

How is this a story? Not a fan of McDonald's but, hey, they also offer coffee. They were never known for their coffee. Now, some people prefer their coffee to Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Should we interview those businesses as well, so that they can say McDonald's should drop coffee and stick to the past?

Posted by: momof2 | Jul 28, 2017 17:55

Maybe they needed a break from all the bad stuff going on and someone thought this would be fun. Lighten up.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 28, 2017 20:31

Hahahahaha!  Lobster rolls are to food what Plymouth Rock is to historical monuments.  Tried one once in Hingham--couldn't tell the difference between the lobster roll and tuna sandwiches I make at home for under a buck.


Tried Kool Kone once, too.  Worst food poisoning I've ever experienced.  Stick to what ya know, Strom--swindling stupid tourists.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Jul 29, 2017 09:09

Society, that a pretty crappy comment about a pretty awesome and well respected business. I'm calling BS on your food poisoning story. You should get together with the Water Wizz story teller. You two would make quite a pair.

Kool Kone has been around for a very long time and Tom is a pillar in this community. He is always willing to donate and help others whenever called upon. Bashing him under a fake name is cowardice.


Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 29, 2017 21:22

I get a kick out of people using fake names who bash me for using a fake name.  Hahahahahaha!

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Jul 29, 2017 21:56

Too bad most people here know who I really am. Still a far cry from bashing a business. Of course you would give no thought about how your lying could hurt his business. Coward....

Posted by: Linda | Jul 30, 2017 16:10

I went to KK often when the Lake's ran it - always good.  Family and friends go there a lot, still.  The first yr. McD's started this we were visiting family in Saco & Old Orchard Beach and they told us about this lobster roll and it was delicious.  Don't care if it's frozen, it was good.    I don't think I know Mr. Strom and he may be a great man, good service Friday, but fish a little over done.  Will I go there again?  Yes.  KK was known for it's ice cream years ago and the menu wasn't as big as it is today.  I just wish these places would put up a new sign every day as to what the market price is.  I had to ask the price for fish and chips - usually standard.       It's a good story, light - a nice change.  KK, you think McD's  should stop with lobster & stay with burgers & fries, but you sell what they are known for so I guess we are even.   I'm going to Larry's for a lobster roll or two!!!!


Posted by: cranberry scoop | Jul 30, 2017 20:06

The lobster roll at McDonalds is small but tasty and the price reflects that. It may have been frozen, but I know that, and sometimes it suits the purpose. I have enjoyed lobster rolls at Kool Kone, Cape Cod Lobster Rolls, and I have enjoyed them down the Cape, and in Maine and New Hampshire. I recently had a knuckle sandwich  in Sandwich and it was   delicious......for some reason someone decided that should cost less that the other parts of the lobster, go figure!! There is room for every size and price.  It's all good!

Posted by: Janet | Jul 31, 2017 09:47

Larry & Melissa have a great tasting Lobster Roll @ Cape Cod Lobster Rolls.   I would love to learn what their secret addition is to their lobster.   It really makes their lobster rolls stand out.  Wish them all the luck in the world - great people!  I try to get there at least every other week.

If you wish to comment, please login.