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Old Port Lobster Shack closing in Redwood City, expanding to Los Altos

Uploaded: Oct 8, 2015
Old Port Lobster Shack, a New England-style seafood restaurant with locations in Redwood City, Portola Valley and San Jose, will be closing its original Redwood City location and reopening in Los Altos, owner Russell Deutsch confirmed Thursday.

The building that houses the Redwood City Old Port Lobster Shack at 851 Veterans Blvd. is going to be redeveloped into an apartment complex sometime next year, Deutsch said. The same company, Sares Regis Group of Northern California, LLC, now owns both the Redwood City building and the Colonnade, a new apartment complex near the corner of San Antonio Road and El Camino Real in Los Altos, and offered Deutsch a ground-floor retail space in the Los Altos development.

Deutsch said the Redwood City location will likely shutter sometime in early summer 2016. He is, however, continuing to look for a viable location in Redwood City, but is holding out for a space with ample parking. (The three most important things to have when opening a restaurant in California? "Parking, parking and parking," Deutsch said.) Part of the appeal of the Los Altos location is an underground parking lot at the Colonnade with separate (and free) retail parking and an elevator that leads directly to the restaurant, Deutsch said.

Deutsch, a Boston native, opened the first Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City in 2006. A second location at the Ladera Country Shopper in Portola Valley followed in 2011, and a third in San Jose in 2013. A food truck dubbed the "ShackMobile" also gathered a following on the Peninsula throughout those years.

And Deutsch is continuing to expand, with locations in Roseville and even Portland, Maine, planned for the next year.

Deutsch imported many items from Maine and Boston to decorate the original restaurant, including the tables and benches, buoys hanging on the walls, fishing nets and a mini lighthouse, according to the restaurant's "about us" page.

Though Old Port is perhaps best known for its lobster rolls (there are five different kinds), the menu is full of New England seafood favorites: clam "chowdah," oysters, fish and chips, fried clams, po boys and more.

For non-seafood lovers who are dragged in, there are plenty of options, from hamburgers and a grilled chicken sandwich to baby back ribs and BBQ chicken.

Stay tuned on an opening date for Los Altos sometime in early 2016.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:32 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.


The history of this restaurant group is much more complex than the summary above ("second" and "third" locations etc). A few years ago, it went into a vast expansion phase, but "in Napa and San Francisco, it quickly failed due to horrible quality control," reported a fan in 2013. One of the "expansion" locations was in Los Altos, at Homestead off Foothill -- I saw it there, but before getting a chance to try, heard that it'd closed. Or never quite opened. Or whatever.

It would be interesting to see the full history of these efforts, and the business's own explanation of the fate of past expansion sites -- Los Altos included -- and what's different now.

Posted by OP Lobster Shack, a resident of Los Altos,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Wow Max, you certainly tell it like you think you know it when something gets under your skin. What, you don't like lobsters, people from the east coast, or you're a die hard upset Yankees Fan?? Did you try opening a totally new concept in two areas at the same time with NO parking in California in 2008 with the economy tanking?? Did you sign a lease and have the landlord lie, fail to complete his work and have to hire a legal team for help?? Our "vast" expansion in those areas failed due to timing, bad landlords, and no parking. Unlike our recent and future successes that have great timing/strong economy, fantastic helpful landlords (and locations) and tons and tons of FREE PARKING. Come check us out Max, I promise to keep the bands on my claws and not to bite. We promise not send you home in a Red Sox hat.... maybe just a Patriots t-shirt.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

I sense a gross misinterpetation above. I'll try to clarify:

1. My earlier comment was posted under an article "Old Port Lobster Shack expanding to Los Altos," as it originally appeared (without the owner comments, just general background information that Elena evidently got online). The article now appearing above was rewritten later today, after the input from Mr. Deutsch.

2. I've been a devoted fan of OPLS since it first opened in RC, and will likely be a regular at the new Los Altos location. Through various writings and organizations I've referred probably hundreds of customers to the Redwood-City restaurant over the past decade. Far from having anything "under my skin," I was reacting to a blog post from Elena (a regular correspondent, to whom I often send local restaurant-industry news) describing a new Los Altos site, but not mentioning the earlier Los Altos site -- I just wondered about it. Probably like many other people who have been here a few years. What was the rest of the story behind this restaurant group's earlier rapid growth, then retrenchment? (N.B., the comment about Napa and SF sites is from Melanie Wong, one of the most widely read Bay-Area online restaurant commentators and, I believe, another strong OPLS fan.)

3. Thank you for adding some of the larger history that I'd wished for in my earlier comment. Perhaps you could fill in more of it at some point. (Also, the Embarcadero newspapers run peninsula-wide "Food Features" periodically and the Old Port story strikes me as a potential candidate for one of those!)

Posted by Hmm, yummmmm, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Best fish restaurant in the Old Port, in Portland ME, that I remember is the Porthole Restaurant. Fish straight off the boat, fries that tasted of potatoes, and as much as you could eat - they kept coming round and offering you more.

Great memories.

Posted by charles reilly, a resident of another community,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 6:28 pm

The Lobster Shack in Redwood City is too expensive. BUT there IS a new seafood / oyster place opening on El Camino in San Carlos. I'll check it out next month.

Posted by Michael, a resident of another community,
on Oct 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

The Los Altos OPLS never opened - I was checking on it regularly. Here's hoping the new Los Altos location has much better luck; I look forward to trying it out.

Posted by Kaz, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Oct 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Wow, that response from OPLS! Sore ego or something? An attacking defense is so East Coast, but not so California. (And there isn't TONS of free parking in Ladera.)

I agree with Max -- there has been a lot of hype and not so many restaurants in reality. (And the Ladera site is lots more expensive than RWC).

Maybe if the whole chain could do extensive training in food allergy/safety issues, and perhaps continuing ESL, or improvement of noise issues so staff can hear customers and each other, our family would be interested in Rusty's (if it ever opens). Mr. D. doesn't process feedback very well, though (see above). We've tried to get through to him the real dangers of food allergies but his staff don't get it. I wish he'd fix problems at his existing venues rather than this stuttering attempt at expanding. It's annoying to have him taking over more restaurant space in Ladera that won't be safe for our family. Used to love the RWC location but Ladera has a limited staff and really inaccurate staff. When we discuss where to eat, we have to take into account whether the kids have patience to wait for the second or third try to get what we ordered. At least Amigo's is an easy back-up and those with allergies can got get their dinner over there.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View,
on Oct 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Well Kaz, I did think it was a surprising owner response above (to a comment from a longtime supporter of his restaurants, citing some history, wondering about the rest).

I'd also casually talked up Old Port here recently, in a comment to an earlier Elena blog post.

After following up above last week, I also sent a message to Russell Deutsch at the email contact address on his restaurant website (no response received yet).

Posted by Eagerly Anticipated, a resident of another community,
on Oct 15, 2015 at 12:16 am

Wow, this place must be really special, for people to track locations before they even open!

Posted by Homestead and Foothill Crossings, a resident of another community,
on Oct 15, 2015 at 12:18 am

By the way, the signature feature of Foothill Crossing shopping center is (Wait for it) no parking slots available.

Posted by pogo, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

pogo is a registered user.

First, I'm going to miss the Redwood City location. In addition to the best lobster rolls in the world (and I've sampled my fair share...), they have an incredible staff. I hope they are able to move these folks to another location.

Second, it might be appropriate to chill a bit about the difficult history of opening a new restaurant. Restaurants are among the most difficult businesses and I commend Mr. Deutsch for his success. I watched as his Rack 'n Roll BBQ place at Woodside Plaza sat untouched for MONTHS as permitting took longer than expected. I was surprised he stuck it out and didn't just shutter it. So to hear that unfortunate experience was repeated elsewhere is not surprising.

I think Mr. Deutsch was playfully responding to some digs by Max Hauser who is an admitted fan of the Lobster Shack. They should bury the hatchet over some good food and a beer at the new Los Altos location when it opens!

Yes, it's a bit pricey ($18 for a lobster roll) but lobstah ain't cheap, eithah. The Lobster Shack is great local restaurant and I hope Elena's readers will give it a try!

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 15, 2015 at 11:18 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Well, pogo, as you can see, not everyone read that owner reaction as playful. But to explain my comments for you, I certainly didn't knowingly "dig" at anyone, nor was I writing that first comment for Russell Deutsch's eyes (he wasn't even part of the blog post at the time). I addressed Elena, whose original text characterized OPLS as "expanding to" Los Altos. (The parts about RC location closing, and the owner quotations, appeared in unmarked edits only after my first comment was already here).

A natural reaction of residents who saw the earlier, very conspicuous Los-Altos undertaking is that OPLS is now returning, rather than expanding, to L'Altos; Elena may have been unaware of the earlier effort, or been out of the area then. Yes, restaurants are tricky businesses. What stands out as unusual in this group is the fast expansion, a few years after OPLS started, from one site to (I understand) at least five -- then retrenchment after three of those didn't work out (including Los Altos) -- followed more recently by new sites and diversification. I regret if this touched a sore spot with the owner. But, whether mentioned here or not it, it remains a central curiosity and discussion topic among many fans who've followed the OPLS story.

Posted by Janet, a resident of Los Altos,
on Oct 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Some of you may or may not be aware that despite the difficulty of running a restaurant, not to mention 4 that are all owned by Russell, he has undergone two, very major, life threatening surgeries in the last three years. Knowing Russell and as a long time fan of his establishments, I do think we was jesting while trying to make a point that where he is today has been a real long haul.

I wish him every success in Los Altos as it is well-deserved!!

Posted by DC, a resident of another community,
on Feb 1, 2016 at 2:37 pm

I actually just heard this news today. I'm going to miss the RWC location. My father is from the Maine and I used to take trips there quite a bit. OPLS' lobster rolls are truly authentic. I've tried other Bay Area restaurants and they just cannot compare.

I go to the Portola Valley location sometimes and it's pretty good. The Valley Fair location could use some help though, the rolls there never seem to be quite as good. RWC by far makes the best rolls!

Hoping the new location in Los Altos will be just as good, if not better, than RWC!

Posted by Ike Heil, a resident of El Carmelo School,
on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

[Post removed due to copyright violation.]

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