Floridians love their seafood, and there’s no shortage of options. It’s one of the reasons 32.6 million domestic visitors vacationed in Florida in Q3 2022 alone. While the gorgeous beaches and clear waters, fishing, and Disney may be the star attractions, there’s no mistaking the fresh seafood is at the top of the favorites lists.
Now, residents and visitors to St. Petersburg can dive into lobster rolls from Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls, a fast-casual chain based out of Annapolis, Maryland. The company recently announced its grand opening of its newest location in downtown St. Petersburg, marking its 23rd U.S. franchise and its fifth in Florida.
There’s a reason so many Mason’s are springing up across the country. There’s the genuine deal: 100% Maine lobster, harvested at its peak sweetness and prepared in multiple ways. In fact, Mason’s is the largest brick-and-mortar chain in the U.S. with the broadest variety of rolls.
Don’t get us wrong, there are six amazing rolls to choose from, but each are made with simple, classic ingredients without much deviation from what you’d find in Maine — with the succulent lobster taking center stage. There are also a variety of other lobster-based and non-lobster-based menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The two most popular lobster rolls are the Classic, served chilled with mayonnaise and lemon butter on a toasted, buttered, split-top bun. Then, there’s the Connecticut, this time tossed in butter and served warm on that same bun. You really can’t go wrong with either, and because there are several other options to choose from, guests can try a different version with each visit.
The St. Petersburg location offers lobster as an add-on to many of its other dishes, like avocado toast and egg dishes at breakfast and salads at lunch and dinner. We couldn’t help notice the lobster grilled cheese and lobster mac & cheese, a grown-up version of the classics that sound incredible. They offer non-lobster versions plus all-beef hot dogs for kids who haven’t yet developed a palette for crustaceans.
The franchise owner, Dominick Chiuchiolo, says the downtown St. Petersburg location was chosen because the area lacks anything like Mason’s. The area is considered up-and-coming, rapidly growing with new businesses and established companies. Professionals are looking for interesting and enjoyable dining experiences.
Floridians appreciate great seafood but don’t always want to have to make a reservation to enjoy it. Mason’s is fast-casual, where guests order at a counter and eat in the store or carry out. Lobster isn’t expected except at fine dining establishments, so the high quality products at Mason’s is a refreshing surprise to most and why the company is expanding so quickly across the country.
There’s another interesting point. Because of it’s authentic Maine-like vibe, most people expect to find a Mason’s shop near the coastline. But you’ll find Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls are frequently located in land-locked towns and more urban areas away from nearby shores. For example, they have franchises in Scottsdale, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Washington, DC; and Austin, Texas. The reason? Typically, franchisees visit the east coast lobster shacks and fall in love with the whole concept, wanting to bring the same experience to their home towns.
From the restaurant decor and casual atmosphere to the simplicity of the menu and the sweet lobster classically prepared, there’s no mistaking Mason’s is famous because of its focus on authenticity. It’s as close to the Maine lobster shacks as you can get without standing on the docks.
Speaking of sweet lobster, there’s bit of a science behind it. Connecticut and other states have lobster as well, but the sweetest meat is found in lobsters that migrate from their colder waters to the warmer waters of Maine, where they shed their hard shells. This migration happens during the summertime, precisely when Mason’s purchases the meat directly from the lobstermen. There is no middlemen or mixing varieties of lobsters. All of Mason’s lobster is 100% Maine lobster from the “summer pack.” It’s one of their biggest differentiators from the competition, and you can taste it, quite literally.
The St. Petersburg location expects a heavy lunch crowd and busy breakfast, but they offer online ordering during open hours and catering. We anticipate many of the nearby businesses will love having Mason’s catered to their offices. Lobster has an aire about it, an elevated option that impresses clients and executives alike. Forget boring, expected subs during working lunches and board meetings. Serve up some Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls, and there will be some wows.
The St. Petersburg Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls is open Sunday – Thursday 8am-9pm and Friday – Saturday: 8am-10pm at 501 1st Avenue North.
Learn more about Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls at https://www.masonslobster.com/.