Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls opened its doors on April 14, providing Scottsdale Quarter with an option for a fast, casual bite.
While seafood fanatics likely will also welcome its lobster mac n’ cheese and lobster grilled cheese, no one is more excited to have the restaurant this far west than Chad Dodd, the co-franchise owner of Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls in Scottsdale and a native of Maine.
Before going in on a franchise, Dodd had been longing for over a year to taste one of his favorite concoctions.
“My wife, daughter and son-in-law took a trip to Portland, Maine, in October 2020 where we watched the leaves change and ate lobster rolls for every meal, including breakfast if we could,” he said. “We kept talking about how Phoenix needed a brick-and-mortar place to get good lobster rolls.”
Dodd then began to search for the perfect concept to bring the buttery, savory summer sandwich to Scottsdale.
“It’s funny: it used to be that when people went on vacation to Maine, they would get lobster rolls,” he said. “But the demand has soared to where people want them when they get home and there’s nowhere to get them.”
Then Dodd discovered Mason’s Lobster Rolls, which he felt offered a simple menu with exceptional taste.
“What drew us to Mason’s was the simplicity of the menu, the freshness of the lobster and the sustainability with the ability to track the lobster from the boat it comes off of to the package that we get it in,” he said. “When we showed up to Annapolis, they brought out almost the entire menu for us to try and it was phenomenal.”
Although he savored the smack of the lobster rolls, he was most impressed by another northeastern classic that Mason’s offered.
“Being from the Northeast and going to Boston more times than I can count, having a true New England clam chowder where you truly taste the clams and not the potatoes were the most important thing to me,” he explained.
This persuaded him enough to begin looking for a space to bring the flavors of the nation’s northernmost state to the southwest.
When real estate became available in the mixed-use complex of Scottsdale Quarter earlier this year, Dodd and his wife Andrea Clinton felt they had found the perfect spot to launch the franchise’s first west coast location.
“Part of our real estate play is we have to be somewhere that is a lifestyle center, which Scottsdale Quarter is with its live-work-play structure,” Dodd said.
However, getting the restaurant opening day ready proved to be a tall task as Dodd and Clinton confronted a backlog caused by the supply chain.
“Everything from lighting to shelving, countertops and paint, it seems like everything either has been delayed or we have to come up with another option to replace these items,” Dodd said.
Clinton devoted the first third of this year to frantically tracking packages and acting as the project manager for the space while Dodd has had to order remaining inventory from online retailers on items like lights the two managed to have the space prepped for its April 14 opening.
Of course, the space also needed employees.
Although Dodd believes that the majority of his employees will be younger and likely working their first job, he is determined to help them them find their place in the world.
“When we get younger people in who may not know what they want to do and working in a restaurant may not be what they want to do, but we’re here to guide them in finding their place in the world,” he said. “Being able to give back to these workers and help them find what they want to do is what we’re about.”
He also wants to teach his employees how to cook a lobster roll in a way that gives northeastern natives like him nostalgia.
“Being from Maine and getting lobster off the docs to take home and cook, when I make a lobster roll here it tastes just like that,” Dodd said.
He also wants to shake up the traditional sit-down restaurant scene of Scottsdale Quarter.
“We’re trying to get people to look at us a bit differently than they would a typical restaurant,” Dodd said. “This offers a bit more of a fast-casual feel where it’s laid back and fun with an easy but fast-paced process.”
Dodd is also eyeing spaces around the Valley and plans to open a second location soon.
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