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How Luke's Lobster Is Clawing Its Way to the Top

Sustaining both ocean life and business growth are at the heart of this company's philosophy.


In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Luke's Lobster

Who are you and what’s your business?

My name is Luke Holden and I am CEO of Luke’s Lobster. We are a vertically-integrated restaurant group that works directly with fisherman to bring the highest quality seafood direct from ocean to plate. We have 22 shacks in 7 states and are opening our second location in Philadelphia's Market East neighborhood this summer. We also have a food truck, the Nauti Mobile.  

What's your company's philosophy?

We are anchored by a commitment to sustainably-sourced seafood. We take great pride in an absolute ability to trace our seafood's journey. We can do this as we have our own processing facility and know all of our fishermen. 

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?

To me it means going into business to support your stakeholders. I think the best entrepreneurs are able to create win-wins that lead to sustainable business growth and economics.  

What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?

It is hard to pick just one challenge, but I tackle them all the same. Huddle up with team, understand and unpack the challenge, divide and concur, come back as a team and see how we did. Sometimes it takes a few rounds.  

Related: Entrepreneurs Are Artists of Life

What is your next big goal?

My next big goal is to tell the story of our seafood with a more focused lens. I don’t think our guest understand the grit, determination, risk and skill that it requires to be a successful fisherman. I grew up in the lobster business, not the restaurant business, and one of the challenges I look forward to undertaking is bridging the information gap that exists between a guest simply enjoying their lobster roll, and a guest having access to the fisherman who caught their food and understanding how their dining decisions can impact a larger community.  

What steps are you taking to achieve that?

We're telling the stories of our fishermen through social storytelling. For our opening in Market East next week we will showcase our fishermen not only on the walls of our shack, as with other locations, but are also bringing Jamie, a fisherman from Tenants Harbor, Maine, and a member of the Tenants Harbor Fisherman's Co-op, to meet with guests and talk about life as a fisherman.

What trait do you depend on most when making decisions?

I think the best decision makers are also the best leaders.  The best leaders have the ability to ask the right questions and empower the team around them to gain as much good information as quickly as possible to make a well-informed decision.

Related: 5 Habits of the Wealthy That Helped Them Get Rich

How has your leadership style evolved?

I have just become more comfortable over time with building structure (organizational charts) and have learned when it is necessary vs. not necessary for me to get involved with challenges.  

Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?

Not so much a quote, but I am big proponent of the Pareto Principle. I think a common observation of most the successful entrepreneurs is their ability to focus 80% of their time on the 20% of the business that drives 80% of the results.  

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