CHATHAM – There are a number of churches offering lobster suppers in the summer but Arthur Clough says the one he organizes at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street in Chatham is “unmatched.”
By explanation, Clough, 85, who is also the finance chairman of the church, said, “We really fill the roll.”
Clough was finishing off his own lobster supper at the church the other day while in the company of his daughter, Peggy Throne, and her husband, Bill.
Clough said that while other churches stretch a pound of lobster meat into six or seven sandwiches, at the Methodist Church, they get only five rolls out of a pound.
“Big chunks of delicious lobster,” Peggy added for emphasis.
They keep the sandwich simple and traditional, Clough said: “a little bit of chopped celery, a bed of lettuce, a tiny bit of mayonnaise.”
Beginning at 5pm Friday evenings in summer, they serve 75 to 125 lobster rolls and they keep serving until 7pm or until the lobster rolls run out.
On a recent Friday, there were a few people sitting at picnic tables eating lobster but many more coming in for take out meals, perhaps to take the sandwiches to the Chatham Band Concert down the street.
Grace and Michael Dean, first timers to the Methodist’s lobster roll supper, were among those eating in.
The Deans coincidently hail from Chatham, New Jersey.
Grace Dean said, “We love church suppers, especially lobster rolls.”
Chris and Nate Blackford, on the other hand, had been coming to the Methodist Church lobster roll supper for as long as they could remember. When told the dinner has been going for about 20 years, they decided that is about how long they have been coming.
They live most of the year in York, Pennsylvania but own a home in Chatham and come to the Cape as often as they can.
As for the Friday night lobster roll supper, “It’s a tradition,” Chris Blackford said, adding that the couple used to bring their children when the kids were little.
Chris said she herself has been coming to Chatham since she was five years old. Her family used to come for two to three weeks every summer. Eventually, around 1960, her parents bought a house, which is still in the family.
She recalled that her childhood family summer vacations on the Cape would include her grandfather, and he would take the family out to a ham and bean supper at the Wayside Inn.
Clough said the lobster roll supper has been held at the church since 1986. Before that, the church served clam chowder on Friday nights, a tradition that started around 1975.
For the 50 or so years leading up to that, Clough said, after checking the memories of some of the volunteers, the church served a ham and bean supper.
These days, about 15 volunteers work at the lobster roll supper.
A lobster roll meal, which comes with chips, cole slaw, a drink and dessert is $16. The meal raises money for the church, but not quite as much as it used to, Clough said.
He said the price of lobster keeps going up, which lowers the profits. When asked about recent news that the price of lobster was going on, he countered with, “don’t believe everything you read.” He said that while the price of live lobsters was decreasing, the price of lobster meat, which is what the church group buys for the lobster supper, has continued to go up.
They make about $1,000 per week, he said.
There are about 10 lobster suppers each season, going from the last week in June until the Friday after Labor Day.
A final message to those curious about the lobster supper?
“Come on down,” Clough said.
– Laura M. Reckford