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A lobster pound, sometimes known as a lobster shack, is a type of restaurant or eating establishment at which fresh lobsters are stored and then cooked for consumption. The term is common in the U.S. state of Maine where lobstering is a common practice, especially along the coast. These establishments were designed to be able to hold a significant amount of lobsters for a long period of time so they could be sold on the wholesale market. Retail lobster pound establishments also exist to cater to tourist traffic common along the coast of Maine.
The term "lobster pound" may also refer specifically to the holding area in which the lobsters are kept. This holding area may be a natural bay with an inlet in which the lobsters can be lured and then trapped, and they can be kept there in a natural habitat for long periods of time. The area may also be man-made, while accomplishing the same goal as the natural habitat. Convenient access to this area is important so the establishment can gather and sell the lobsters quickly and easily. Many lobster shacks are farther inland, necessitating a man-made holding pound.
Lobster pound establishments have become prevalent along the main roads in coastal communities. These pounds will sell lobsters live or cooked, and many of these pounds will have dining areas indoors or outdoors. One of the draws of lobster pounds over more conventional restaurants is the atmosphere: the cooking is sometimes done outdoors in very large pots over fires, and the buildings are often full of character, though they are also often no-frills structures. A customer may also be able to buy the lobsters cheaper at the lobster pound than they would be able to at a restaurant, particularly if they buy the lobsters live or in bulk. Many establishments overlook the water as well, creating a pleasing atmosphere and a genuine tourist experience.
Most of the meals served at lobster pounds feature boiled lobster, but other items are usually available as well. The pound may serve sides such as French fries or coleslaw, or they may serve variants on lobster dishes. The lobster roll is a popular dish throughout Maine; this dish features chopped or chunked lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and/or butter as well as some spices. The mixture is then served on a hot dog bun or similar bread.