to order lobsters
728 Main St, Bangor, ME
Open 7 days a week
9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Whether it’s potatoes or seafood, Reid McLaughlin makes it his business to sell the freshest products on the market.
For 37 years, McLaughlin Seafood has been a fixture on Bangor’s Main Street, just north of the Hampden line. The small, unobtrusive roadside store has been the go-to place in Bangor for fresh seafood, even as one fish market after another has closed.
But in 2011, Reid and Kimberly McLaughlin opened a second location at Hamlin’s Marina in Hampden, where, on summer afternoons and evenings, people can dine, indoors, on an outdoor patio, or at picnic tables, listen to live music, and watch the river flow.
It’s a scenic location, off the main drag and on the shore of the Penobscot, with boats bobbing on moorings and lying alongside the docks. Two boats drift slowly by mid-river, their occupants dangling fishing lines over the side. A fenced storage yard across the parking area holds still more boats, some being worked on by their owners before their date with the launching ramp.
“We were getting a little bored up the street, but now we’ve got a project,” says Reid McLaughlin, with an easy laugh. It’s a perfectly pleasant, midweek day in early summer. “I shoveled dirt and poured cement last week. I’m getting ready to put some lumber up next week, start putting a roof on that patio. Down the road, we’ll glass the patio in. We sometimes get a lot of wind off the river.”
He’s long had an eye on opening a place on the river. This year, opportunity knocked. Hamlin’s Marina bought Stern’s Lumber and moved their showroom up to Main Street, vacating the building at the marina. “They contacted us in January to see if we would be interested,” Reid says. “We hemmed and hawed for a while, and decided it was a good spot for us.”
Besides the small dining area attached to the Bangor store, he’s never run a restaurant. He’s relying on his wife’s experience. “Kim’s worked for the Hyatt and other places like that, so she’s got an idea about all the dining room stuff. She knows what she likes when she goes out to eat, and she likes to cook, too. She does all the specials.”
His easygoing manner belies a lifetime of serious work. Born and raised in Fort Fairfield, in Aroostook County, he raised potatoes for a year after college before his father purchased Wilson’s Seafood in Bangor in 1978. McLaughlin bought the business, whose primary customers were restaurants, from his father two years later. “That was a lot of road time,” he recalls. “I used to do two and three trips a week from Fort Fairfield down to here. We were delivering seafood and potatoes to all the restaurants at the same time.”
He pronounces “potatoes” in the County way, without “t’s” or long “o’s”. The new restaurant at the marina serves all Maine-grown potatoes, including french fries from Aroostook giant McCain Foods. Most of the beef and chicken is Maine-raised. The seafood, of course, is local.
Thirty years ago, there were several fish markets in Bangor. McLaughlin says the business has survived the competition from bigger grocery stores and chains by offering the freshest product available to loyal and appreciative customers.
“We get deliveries six days a week, but a lot of it we pick up ourselves from Bass Harbor and Sorrento. We know where it comes from and when it came in. We send a truck down twice a week. Sometimes, I go myself, or I’ll send one of the kids.”
All five of Reid and Kimberly’s children work for the family business, which is open year-round on Main Street and will likely be an April through December operation at the marina. Days off are few and far between.
“We take our time in the winter,” McLaughlin says. “We go snowmobiling and ice fishing, we go on vacation.” A favorite destination is Jost Van Dyke, in the British Virgin Islands.
But winter is far away, and Reid McLaughlin is still enjoying his new project. “I like what I do,” he says, “so I don’t mind going to work each day.”