Lobster West Restaurant Set To Debut In Coronado Memorial Day Weekend - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Home And Business

Lobster West Restaurant Set To Debut In Coronado Memorial Day Weekend

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Posted: Monday, May 23, 2016 4:44 pm

Kim Locker discovered from her Uncle Reggie that lobster was a delicacy, when she was five years old. “We used to go to his shore house on Long Beach Island, New Jersey and steam and broil lobster. I can vividly remember cracking lobster and dunking it in warm butter. I thought that was the best ever and I fell in love with seafood at a very early age.”

Now Kim, her younger brother Chad Taggart, and mother Deborah Taggart are importing their popular Lobster West restaurant concept from Encinitas to Coronado, with the Grand Opening slated to be around the Memorial Day Weekend. In addition to their ownership roles in the family venture, Chad serves as Chef and Regional Manager, Kim is the VP of Marketing and Deborah is the Chief Financial Officer. Deborah supplied the inspiration for the restaurant and provided the family recipe for the coleslaw served at Lobster West. As a hint, the dish includes poppy seeds.

Kim was born in New York City, graduated from Watchung Hills Regional High School in Watchung, New Jersey and then matriculated to Florida State University, where she majored in broadcast journalism and marketing. “I was a sports reporter in college, and worked on the football pre-game show for the Sunshine Network. I got to interview (FSU Alumni) Burt Reynolds and Deion Sanders, but that feels like another life. The energy you felt when you were there for a football game was really amazing.”

While at FSU, Locker served as the social chair of the Delta Gamma sorority and was the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. “At Delta Gamma we did philanthropic stuff and coordinated fundraisers. It was a big Greek school. After moving from the Northeast, it was a way to get to know people at such a huge school and a way to really connect. I met some of my best friends while I was at Florida State.”

After college Locker earned an internship with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studio in New York and from there went to work for Grey Advertising. “I was in creative management and worked on contract negotiations between the head of casting and our clients, which led me into the modeling field. They cast me in commercial print work and then into some commercials. I got my Screen Actors Guild card and it was a great experience. I got to work alongside Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway and got to do some film stuff in New York. Then I started fit modeling, where you are paid by a designer to fit their clothing line. It was consistent income and I worked hard. I got a part on “Law and Order” and it is still running. My last residual check was for $7.30 which I sent to my Dad as a joke. I’ve always been a really hard worker and able to wear a lot of hats. I lived in New York for nine years.”

Minnesota native Joel Locker arrived on the scene at about this point, a certified financial analyst who played football at Tulane and earned a free agent tryout for the then St. Louis Rams. Kim said of her husband, “He’s Midwestern nice and a good guy with good values. His dad was a pastor. We lived in the same neighborhood in New York and we would see each other at the local market and the gym. It took him a while to introduce himself to me. We married two and a half years after we met.”

After the couple decided that New York wasn’t the best option for raising children, they moved to the San Diego area nine years ago. “We left our entire family behind, then they all followed us out here. Mom came out to help with the kids and my brother Chad came out eight years ago. He has a background in environmental planning. Joel is involved in the broader picture of the restaurant. Because of his financial background, he makes sure we are negotiating the right shipping costs and that we are doing the best we can getting the product here from the East Coast.”

The Locker Family now includes Jake who recently turned nine, Tyler who is seven and Luke aged four. Their two older sons play flag football and both are the quarterbacks on their respective teams. Kim added, “Our third son gets carted around to the older boys’ games.”

Lobster West started out as a running family joke, with Deborah asking, “How much would you pay for an authentic lobster roll?” Kim explained, “We decided to bring the concept to San Diego, the wheels started spinning and the rest is history. The beginning phases of the Encinitas store were crazy. I had a newborn, we were writing a business plan, and applying for permits with the city of Encinitas. That was three years ago in July.”

The restaurant’s concept is based on serving fresh Maine lobster, flown in from the waters off of Portland, Deere Island, Boothbay, Bath and Vinalhaven, Maine. “My brother Chad flew back East and met with tons of fishermen and exporters,” Locker said. “A big part of our business model is each lobster we serve is sustainable and can be traced to the port in which they caught the lobster. You can cut corners and get canned lobster that’s not fresh. Our lobster is guaranteed to be from the icy waters of Maine and you can really taste the difference. From a restaurant operation perspective and after meeting with a consultant, our food costs are substantially higher than a regular restaurant. We rely on a volume of business and we are committed to not cutting corners. We have decided it really has to taste good. I hope our pricing doesn’t offend people, but our markup is very small based on what we pay. Our lobster is fresh that day. We also get our bread and rolls from the Sadie Rose Bakery in San Diego and we use local, organic produce for our salads.”

Shortly after Lobster West opened in Encinitas, my wife Sharon and I visited the eatery on consecutive weekends and loved the lobster rolls and the lobster bisque they serve. Sharon worked summers at the Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine during college. During a visit we made to the area years ago, I tasted fresh Maine lobster for the first time. We can attest that the product served at Lobster West is the real deal. Their lobster rolls contain almost no filler and very little mayonnaise. Basically they let the lobster be the star of the culinary show. It should be noted that there is a gluten-free roll option at Lobster West.

Locker explained the preparation of the lobster bisque. “It’s one of my favorite dishes we serve and probably our most popular soup. It’s made with fresh Maine Lobster, pureed into a light cream broth with a hint of sherry, which gives it a nice kick. Our clam chowder is also really popular and I love the lobster tail salad.”

Locker related how Coronado became the site of the second Lobster West location. “It’s funny, when we were here, looking for places to open, we saw people on bikes in Coronado. That was very nostalgic for me. We looked for a year and a half for a location and we did a ton of research. Coronado has a small community feel, is family-oriented and military-supported. My brother, my husband and I love the feel of Coronado. We are putting so much into this, our money, our hearts and our dreams. We think Coronado is a special place to introduce an authentic lobster roll experience.”

Locker discussed some of Lobster West’s other food offerings. “We serve Whoopie Pies, which is Maine’s most popular dessert. We ship them in from Maine and it’s a moist chocolate cake with filling in the middle. And we get desserts locally from Sweet Cheeks Bakery that won ‘Cupcake Wars’ on the Food Network.”

Locker suggested the entry level order for new customers could be the Maine Feast for Two. That includes a lobster roll, a crab roll, a shrimp roll, two house-made coleslaws and two orders of Cape Cod chips. Unbeknownst to me, there is also such a thing as a Connecticut Style lobster roll, where the lobster is served warm. Personally, that concept is blasphemous, but at some point when my High Roller Card (buy 12 lobster rolls, get one free) kicks in, I’ll probably give that version a try.

Lobster West Coronado is off to a flying start, catering a birthday party on the Island this past weekend. When the construction is completed, the restaurant will seat about 40 people, similar in size to their Encinitas location. Locker added, “The format is the same and you come in and order at the counter. A big part of our business in Encinitas is take-out and we hope that is the same here. We cater picnics, corporate lunches and special events like birthdays. Customers order platters of lobster rolls, a bowl of coleslaw and a large portion of soup. We can cater a New England-themed party at home, the office or at the beach.”

If you draw a straight line between the Bank of America Building in Coronado and the U.S. Post Office, Lobster West is located in the middle of the two landmarks. The street address is 1033 B Avenue, Suite 102. Hours of operation will be Sunday through Thursday from 11 am to 8 pm, with Fridays and Saturdays expanding an hour to 11 am to 9 pm. You can reach the restaurant by phone at 619-675-0002.

Lobster West has a wine and beer license and will serve beer from the Coronado Brewing Company as well as some selected East Coast beers. Locker explained, “It’s a combination of our East Coast concept and supporting local West Coast businesses. That’s what we are about.”

As we concluded our interview, Locker threw a wrench into the lobster works when she said, “Our Maryland crab cake is delicious too. It contains a lot of crab, not a lot of filler and we serve it with a lemon tarragon aioli.” I wonder if I can talk the Locker/Taggart Clan into a High Roller Card for crab cakes?

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