East Lothian's Lobster Man launches fundraiser to expand business after demand skyrockets

A fisherman who revolutionised his 300-year-old family lobster business during lockdown is calling on the public for financial support as he struggles to keep up with demand.

Stewart Pearson and his partner Gemma Mccann who run The Lobster Man in North Berwick picture: Lisa Ferguson
Stewart Pearson and his partner Gemma Mccann who run The Lobster Man in North Berwick picture: Lisa Ferguson

Stewart Pearson set up a lobster takeaway service in North Berwick with his partner Gemma Mccann during lockdown after the pandemic disrupted trade with fish merchants and restaurants.

The change was a huge success for the 45-year-old whose prepared seafood dishes were making three times more per lobster compared how he sold his catch prior to lockdown.

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But since his business, aptly named The Lobster Man, featured in Edinburgh Evening News, Stewart said orders have “skyrocketed” which has prompted the couple to set up a crowdfunder to help them expand to meet customer demand.

"We are cooking about 180 lobsters a day between us,” Stewart said, a lot for just a team of three including Gemma and a recently hired chef.

"We are also getting requests for lobsters to be delivered further afield which we just don’t have the resources for at the moment so I am having to turn down a lot of customers.”

Orders for their lobster dishes are currently full for at least the next two weeks with all the business’s Valentine’s Day menu requests selling out more than a week ago.

Stewart, who does all the fishing himself, has had to start buying lobsters from other fisherman as his own efforts fail to keep up with customer demand.

"I was making a profit on my catch but since orders have been flying in I have had to source the seafood from others,” he said.

The Lobster Man’s ethos ‘from boat to plate’ however still stands as Stewart assures any lobster he sources is freshly caught from Scottish waters.

To fully cater for the burgeoning demand, the couple are hoping to raise £70,000.

The money will go towards installing four 30ft shipping containers near to where their catering van currently stands next to Fenton Barns Farm Shop.

The space will be used for a new, professional kitchen, storage for the lobsters and a seating area for customers for when Covid regulations ease.

Stewart said he is also hoping to upgrade the current trailer and take on more staff.

"We need to hire more people to help with the cooking, deliveries and taking orders,” he added.

“We want someone to be able to deliver to a pick-up point for customers in Edinburgh.

"The demand is clearly there, it has been phenomenal, but we need help.”

Stewart said he has made attempts to apply for funding through business support organisations, but has so far received no response giving him little option but to turn to the public.

"We are at a loss trying to get funding,” he said.

“And we are not eligible for the Covid grants so we thought we would ask the public instead as they are showing the demand for it.”

The Lobster Man serves a range of seafood dishes including lobster doused in thermador sauce, coriander and garlic butter or wrapped in a brioche bun or flat bread.

The crustaceans are fished sustainably by Stewart himself who also makes all the creels by hand.

He comes from a long line of fisherman who have been catching lobsters off North Berwick’s coast for three centuries.

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