Order lobster fresh from Maine
With a bit too much time on his hands, retired entrepreneur Michael Scharf of Fairview discovered a way to fill a void and get fresh lobster — one of his favorite meals.
Because of his past work in the seafood business, Scharf had plenty of connections in Maine, which bills itself at home to the world's finest lobster. That lead to the start of The Lobster Club, a group of lobster lovers who pre-order lobster for delivery once a month. Customers can purchase live lobsters or frozen lobster tails.
"My friends wanted lobster. I like lobster, too, so this is what brought me out of retirement," he said.
For now, Scharf accepts orders on Monday the week in which the lobsters arrive, which is the last Friday of the month.
Customers can pick up their order between noon and 3 p.m. at the entrance to the parking lot in the Innsbruck Mall on Tunnel Road in Asheville. Customers are asked to bring a container and ice pack to take the seafood home.
Scharf's goal is to build business up so deliveries can be brought in twice a month. Around the holidays, the schedule may be altered slightly.
Since its formation in July, The Lobster Club has caught on. There is no membership fee, no minimum orders and, best of all, the live lobsters sell for considerably less than what customers would pay retail.
He's already collecting testimonials from satisfied customers, including David and Melody Dickson of Maggie Valley.
"We got our first chance to try Michael's Lobster Club and live Maine lobsters a week ago," said David. "Wow! We were born and raised and have lived in Central Florida virtually all of our lives. Over the years we fished throughout the state in both fresh and salt water. We have seen what fresh, LIVE seafood looks like. We also know what it tastes like. So we were a little skeptical about getting live seafood in the North Carolina mountains. But we're here to tell you — it doesn't get any better than this!"
Scharf previously owned Lobstermania, a business that was conceived to bring lobster to the consumer market, but ended up wholesaling to upscale restaurants in the area. His two biggest clients were Grove Park Inn and Biltmore Estate, but he also provided lobsters to Vincenzo's, Corner Kitchen, Magnolia's and Harrah's Casino, to name a few.
He got out of the business to retire, but now has settled on an idea that brings him back to his original plan — bringing in an item to consumers that can sometimes be hard to get in the mountains.
The pricing fluctuates with the market, something that is based, in part, on the weather and the ability of fishermen to safely get in the ocean. However, Scharf promises his rates will always be lower than other retail outlets the region.
"You will love these lobsters," said Scharf. "I guarantee it."
Members provide names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses (to be kept confidential) and Scharf sends out a notice about ordering deadlines. Find out more about the effort at the website thelobsterclubwnc.com or by calling 828-696-6555.