This clam bar grants “pardons” to its oldest lobsters, taking them off the menu and into the sea

June 20, 2017 1:40 pm Last Updated: June 20, 2017 1:40 pm

Giant, elderly lobsters get spared from the plate

When a customer walked into Peter’s Clam Bar in Hempstead this past weekend, he offered the seafood deal of a lifetime: $1,000 for a single lobster, to be eaten in a Father’s Day feast.

The owner turned him down.

Because that wasn’t any ordinary lobster. It was Louie, a massive, 132-year-old lobster who had been a resident at Peter’s for two decades. At 22 pounds, he would’ve made quite a meal. But Butch Yamali, the owner of the clam bar, just couldn’t bear to see him go like that.

A side view of Peter's Clam Bar on a beautiful day!

A post shared by Peter's Clam Bar (@petersclambar) on

“It’s like a pet now, I couldn’t sell it,” Yamali explained to the New York Post. Yamali had inherited Louie when he bought the restaurant four years ago. “He’s the largest and oldest of all my lobsters.”

But Yamali went one step further than sparing the elderly crustacean from his hot, buttery doom: he decided to let Louie live the rest of his days in the freedom of the ocean, and set him free from captivity.

And he didn’t just plop him back into the ocean, like some common shellfish: he gave him a ceremonial goodbye… including an official pardon from the Town of Hempstead. 

Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino officiated the ceremony outside the restaurant: “Louie may have faced a buttery fate on a seafood lover’s plate, but today we are here to return Louie to a life that is better down where it’s wetter.” The ceremonial pardoning was also in honor of National Lobster Month.

Don't be #shellfish. Help the Town of Hempstead protect our wildlife. This #NationalLobsterMonth we set free 22 lbs, 132 year old Louie the Lobster at Peter's Clam Bar so he could live back #UnderTheSea‬

Posted by Supervisor Anthony J. Santino on Friday, June 16, 2017

Finally, Louie was escorted by speedboat to his new home, a beach reef near Island Park, and dropped back into the sea from whence he came.

But Louie isn’t even the first lobster to be pardoned by Hempstead and Peter’s Clam Bar.

Louie won’t be without company back in the ocean. Larry, another 130-year-old, 20-pound lobster received the same pardoning ceremony in 2016.

“We didn’t know what to do with Larry, he was so big,” Yamali told Newsday at the time. “We couldn’t possibly think of eating him—we were thinking of getting a leash for him, actually.”

LARRY IN THE FLESH!!! He's very excited to make his journey back home!! #PetersClamBar #PardonLarry

A post shared by Peter's Clam Bar (@petersclambar) on

Santino also spoke at that ceremony: “In Hempstead Town, with our cherished nautical heritage, we take our sea creatures very seriously.”

According to Newsday he honored Larry as “a living symbol of Hempstead’s seafaring, nautical heritage.”

LARRY MAKING HIS DEBUT!! Bye Larry, hope the ocean treats you well, buddy!! #PardonLarry #PetersClamBar

A post shared by Peter's Clam Bar (@petersclambar) on

With two pardons in a row, maybe this will become a yearly tradition for the town (begging the question: just how many of these huge, old lobsters does Peter’s have?) akin to the White House’s Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon.

In addition to being a fun community event (it’s great publicity for the town, Peter’s, and the local lobster industry) it’s a nice demonstration that, with all the lobsters being gobbled up this summer on Long Island and beyond, we’re sometimes able to show some compassion for our dinner.

Because really, how can you bring yourself to eat something that’s lived that long? Those lobsters have been walking around since the 19th century.

For perspective, if Louie’s age is correct, he would’ve been born in Grover Cleveland’s first year in office. It would just be cruel to end things now, just for a meal. They deserve to see it out til the end.

But you can still check out Peter’s Clam Bar and chow down on all the younger, unluckier lobsters you want:

ROLL on over to Peter's for a FRESH lobster roll 😛😛😛

A post shared by Peter's Clam Bar (@petersclambar) on