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Greenpoint crustacean chef is an underground lobster roll dealer

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Brooklyn’s underground lobster roll connection has re-surfaced — and he’s going mobile.

The Boston native behind a covert New England-style lobster shack, who calls himself Dr. Claw, makes fresh lobster rolls for feverishly hungry seafood crazed fans in his basement apartment in Greenpoint for the past few months.

The lobsters come daily from Maine — the controversy is far more local.

Claw’s start-up catering business — and the frequent customers who leave with unmarked brown paper bags — has begun to attract suspicion from his neighbors — and the feds.

When Claw, dressed like a gang-banger (complete with a gold-plated lobster claw necklace), leaves his apartment to make a delivery of his own, elderly neighbors shut their door, close their shades, and peer through the blinds.

“They think I’m dealing drugs,” said Claw, who is actually fencing rolls at below-market prices, typically less than $15. “I’ll admit, having customers walk off with a bag looks pretty sketchy.”

State environmental officers are rumored to be on Claw’s tail, so he keeps it on the down low, using an elaborate beeper and Facebook system to deliver directly to patrons anywhere in North Brooklyn.

To preserve his identity, Claw has grown a beard and donned a hooded jacket and sunglasses, and does not give his name out to customers. He has also increased surveillance on his potential customers’ Facebook pages, weeding out anyone who looks like a health inspector or a Department of Environmental Conservation officer.

“If the person is an artist or a member of a dance troupe who lives in the neighborhood, that’s cool. If the person has a short haircut, lots of muscles, and a polo shirt with the word ‘DEC’ on it, that’s not so cool,” said Claw.

Claw is in the process of getting his catering license, which could prevent state officials from trapping him in bureaucracy’s net. In the meantime, he’s washing his hands as much as he can to get rid of that lobster smell and catering to the demands of his high-rolling clientele.

One of Claw’s customers stops by in a white BMW convertible with a different Russian model girlfriend every time.

“The girl thinks he has never done this before. She thinks it is her special treat,” said Claw.

Others are less picky.

“My older friends tell me to drop the act. They say, ‘We’re just hungry. We need the roll,’” said Claw.

He can barely keep up with demand. As everyone knows, when you have a jones, you have a jones.

“I never thought I’d be doing orders of 30 lobster rolls at three in the morning, but there’s no difference between making 30 rolls and making three, so I do it,” said Claw.

Customers know little about Claw except that he ran Hurricane Hopeful in Williamsburg in 2001, made chowders with Martha Stewart, and battled Bobby Flay in an episode of “Throw Down.”

“Some nights are quiet but most nights are so insane I’m throwing my hands up and crying because there’s no way I think I can get it all done,” said Claw.

To join the Underground Lobster Pound, visit the Brooklyn Urban Anglers facebook page and become a “friend.”

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Reader Feedback

Ben from Greenpoint says:
Please take out the Surf Bar comment. Thanks
May 13, 2010, 10:58 am
Sarah from Williamsburg says:
Ben, you're just publishing your request-- why so sensitive? I think Claw is awesome. Way to innovate!
May 13, 2010, 3:44 pm
Roorback.com from NYC says:
What’s next, illegal foie gras farms? Secret fox hunts? On-the-DL falconry? I’m so glad I got out of there when I did. At least here on the west side, the only crustaceans are the crabs you get from the girls at The Liberty Inn.
May 14, 2010, 4:14 pm
Joe Nardiello from Carroll Gardens says:

Enjoyed this story a ton, especially that I've 100s of (beloved) in laws & friends from New England. It will be fun, hunting for Dr. Claw (and a good lobster roll). By the way, judging from the tell-tale team colors of the 'leather' jacket and the Boston "B" on his hip-hopped up baseball cap.... why can't every Boston Red Sox fan behave this way in Brooklyn, and go so so deeply underground?
May 18, 2010, 11:10 am
bruce from nairobi, kenya says:
love the claw bling!
Sept. 1, 2010, 5:49 am
Kindred Spirit from Tidewater VA says:
I was born in the Village in the 1950s and am drawn back to innovative, artistic, freedom loving ventures such as this. I will try to hook up with the Claw for a lobster roll next time I'm in town.
Its efforts like the Claw's lobster rolls that made the US so great in the past. Such businesses served as incubators providing meaningful, satisfying work... not just jobs. Laws prohibiting entrepreneurship at many levels are responsible for much of our recent economic failure. If people losing their homes were allowed to rent out rooms in their McMansions, they could have save their homes, credit, and provided others, going through hard economic times, with a place to live. It's ashamed laws have been devised to prohibit people from being able work, start businesses, and employ others. If Steve Jobs had been prohibited from working out of his garage, Apple would not exist. I really think it’s time we the people started a movement, through new US Constitutional Amendments, to limit government’s ability to control: home grown, entrepreneurism; farmers/gardeners from selling produce directly to the public (it's now illegal to do this through the 2010 Food Safety and Modernization Act); and require medical procedures that many realize are unsafe (i.e. forced immunizations and forced armed services medical testing campaigns) We need to pass a second Amendment that makes government organizations, employees, and the administration of corporations civilly and monetarily liable for damages to citizens for negligence. Laws need to fashioned so that tens of thousands of people are not seriously harmed. Additionally, this Amendment should prohibit the US government from assuming or waivering liability for another organization i.e. Big Pharma.
NYC should not be able to control the number of street vendors. Good "ol" capitalism should make this decision. Let the best businesses survive. This would stimulate a real concern customer service and quality products and/or services.
Yes, the Health Dept. should conduct unannounced inspections of all food production and sales facilities to include street vendors and be able to close them down if it is proven there is a danger to the public and the vendor does not remedy the situation immediately. Businesses won’t take a chance on harming the public if the corporate veil can be pierced and decision makers individually sued for negligence. In light of such a law, health departments will not have to do much as businesses will do more to self police. Likewise, health departments should conduct UNANNOUNCED hospital inspections similar to Joint Commission inspections. The later is really necessary as too many violations can be covered up or changed as a result of knowing the inspection is going to take place. Joint Commission inspections are always planned and announced well in advance enabling hospitals to fix problems for the inspection. This is where the health department is needed.

Kudos to the Claw. I understand his desire to remain off the grid and hope he figures out a way to make it legal so he can continue to practice his profession. Maybe the fact that he befriends these folks on Facebook makes them his personal friends. In essence, he's providing friends with food that they reimburse him for. These friends include extra for processing and handling but its all part of simple reimbursement. May be this thought process can be used in his defense in some way. Lots of people prepare foods for family members, roomies, or friends. This guy just seems to be popular.

I'm afraid, in the future, more food supplies may have to follow the Claw’s "pushar" tactics. This is especially true for buyers wishing to obtain unpasteurized milk products, supplements, and vitamins. (I personally follow the China Study info and don't consume milk products but respect the rights of those who choose to do so.) If the Feds have their way, supplements and vitamins will be available only with a prescription and only a few pharmaceutical companies will monopolize them. I've heard, but cannot confirm that, Thailand has made tumeric and cayenne illegal. Both have potent disease prevention and healing properties.
I think it’s time for change and the only way we will secure our freedoms is to create government limiting Constitutional Amendments, not through the federal congress, but via a Constitutional Convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. One Amendment needs to limit governments control in terms of entrepreneurism and coercive use of high tech, allopathic medicine. A second Amendment needs to hold government departments and employees as well as corporations (piercing the corporate veil) liable for damages resulting from their negligence and resulting in the harm of people. This Amendment should also limit and tie representatives' pay to that of the average, non-government or government contract workers in their respective district times 2 with the percentage of pay increase equal to that of teachers in their district. Health insurance expenditures should equal that of the average worker in their district. Additionally, federal congressman should be required to spend 1 month out of the year shadowing a service person, of the lowest grade, in a place of heaviest armed conflict as determined by hand gun rounds fired against the enemy. Representatives need to get a feel for the violence and risk of being in the operational theatre as much if not more than meeting with their home state constituents.
Sept. 25, 2011, 1:16 am
betty from oahu says:
will he deliver to hawaii? i'm serious!!
March 21, 2012, 3:05 am
betty from hawaii says:
pasha2k@aol.com i miss my lobster rolls!
March 21, 2012, 3:08 am
ladybae from queens says:
you are amazing. love your story.
Jan. 22, 2013, 7:39 am

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