Joe Loves Lobster Rolls
Get your lobster fix — and your wild game fix — at this popular restaurant and food truck based in Boiling Spring Lakes.
What do lobsters, bison and alligator have in common? They’re all served at Joe Loves Lobster Rolls, a beloved food truck and restaurant in Boiling Springs Lakes.
Though the joint is obviously most known for its lobster rolls, owner Tony Herndon put additional items like alligator bites, South Philly cheesesteak and bison chili on the menu to make him stand out from competitors.
Not like he had much competition, though. Herndon created the Joe Loves Lobster Rolls concept about seven years ago, with the food truck and flagship located in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Since then he successfully opened several Joe Loves Lobster Rolls locations — in Beaufort, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Seacrest, Florida — with the Brunswick County location being the latest and only remaining brick and mortar.
After his first food truck stint on a Tuesday night at Flytrap Brewing in Wilmington, Joe Loves Lobster Rolls was the most requested food truck in town. Herndon says folks have come out from Calabash, Raleigh and even as far as Illinois to get their hands on one his tasty lobster rolls.
Herndon’s first restaurant venture was in Richmond, Kentucky, which is where he was married and had two children, both girls. The family then made their way to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. After closing down the Joe Loves locations in South Carolina, Herndon rented a beach house near Pawleys Island, where he made his way up to Southport and instantly fell in love with the area. He made the move and opened another Joe Loves soon after. “There are so many facets to my life,” Herndon says. “Right now I’m right here and I’m doing well and that’s about all I can ask for.”
Herndon doesn’t claim to be a chef; he’s modest despite knowing he makes a good product. He went to school in Michigan to get an environmental science degree — “which is why I’m so ecologically conscious in all of my restaurants,” he says. But growing up, his family owned an Italian market and deli in South Jersey for 40 years, so he’s been running around a kitchen since he was about seven.
“Even though I’m not a chef I’ve got a great palate,” he says. “I realize what goes well with other foods.” According to Herndon, what goes well with lobster is simple. His famous lobster rolls are made with only five ingredients: lobster, butter, lemon, mayonnaise and the roll. Herndon believes that lobster, being an expensive product, doesn’t need seasoning and fancy frills. “My simplicity definitely lends to my popularity,” he says.
There is one item on the menu, however, that is full of pizazz. The $140 Golden Lobster Grilled Cheese is made with homemade bread, a half-pound of lobster, four different kinds of aged cheese and a dredge of 24-karat gold. The spectacular sandwich is served with a side of lobster bisque, pineapple coleslaw with cranberries and a split of champagne. “I don’t expect to get many orders of it,” Herndon says. “It’s mostly just a novelty for people to say that they had it.”
Joe Loves also whips up a juicy Wagyu burger and a half-pound New York Rueben, both odes to South Jersey. But perhaps the most popular item on the menu, Herndon says, is the Fried Ipswich Belly Clams, which are available only about twice a week, depending on the weather up in Massachusetts. “Some people tell me that if they were on death row it would be their last meal,” Herndon says.
All dishes at Joe Loves Lobster rolls are served with a homemade side, a pickle and a water. Although the restaurant doesn’t serve beer or wine, guests are welcome to bring their own. Additionally, vegan cheese, vegan butter, vegan mayo and gluten-free bread are always available. Herndon’s next step for Joe Loves Lobster Rolls is to make it into a franchise. He believes he’s the reincarnated Ray Kroc and hopes to expand the restaurant to locations inland, especially, he says, to areas where people don’t have lobster, fresh seafood or wild game.
Herndon is grateful for the success he’s had in Brunswick County and the surrounding area, and maintains that this will always be his home base.
“I want to put my thanks in to Pender, Brunswick and New Hanover counties and beyond for supporting me and my family,” he says. “They really embrace me here. And being loyal is what I really appreciate most.”
Be on the lookout for Joe Loves Lobster Rolls, as one day it could be the McDonalds of lobster rolls.
Want to try it?
3148 George II Highway
Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina
Call (910) 845-3355
Wednesday through Saturday 11 am to 8 pm
Sunday 11 am to 4 pm