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Oct 12, 2010 12:23 PM

R.I.P. The Fairway Lobster Roll

So I went to Fairway a few weeks ago for a big shopping. To prep myself for the aisles I headed to the back to fortify with a lobster roll.

After a brief wait, the staff member handed me not the usual paper plate on a cardboard tray, but a clear plastic clamshell. Inside was the usual cole slaw and chips and something small wrapped in white paper.

I looked down at it and handed it back and said "you forgot the lobster roll."

He handed it back and said "no I didn't."

I looked again and passed it back and said "yes you did."

He passed it back and said "It's right there."

I then opened the clamshell and unwrapped the skinny little piece of white paper. Inside was the usual toasted hot dog-shaped potato roll. It was empty.

I handed it back and said "You forgot the lobster."

He handed it back and said "it's in there."

I now pulled open the hot dog bun to find the merest trace of lobster meat. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was so little salad that he was able to close the bun back up and it looked like there was nothing inside of it. All told I'd be amazed if it added up to the meat of a half of a single claw of a 1 pound lobster. Seriously, volume wise, there was maybe 6 times more bun than there was salad.

I looked up at him and said "You have *got* to be kidding."

He then told me that they were inspected and were told they could not give out more than 2 ounces of lobster meat.

I asked if he expected me to believe that the Department of Health placed a limit on the amount of lobster they were allowed to serve?

He then told me that it wasn't the Health Department that inspected them -- it was Fairway! Apparently Fairway wants them to give out no more than 2 ounces of lobster meat per roll.

He offered to add a "tiny bit more" but I told him that was ridiculous and never mind.

Bottom line, the best deal on a lobster roll is no more.

I'm fine with Fairway realizing that they were losing money on each lobster roll (though I like to think of it as a loss leader) but either own up to it and post a sign saying why there's no lobster in the lobster roll or just up the price so it's a proper lobster roll.

And the worst part? The way they tried to hide the change. Before it was an overflowing bun (though eventually a full, but not overflowing, bun) sitting in the open of a paper plate. Now it's a bun squeezed closed over the paltry meat, wrapped up in paper to hide the insult, and then closed inside a plastic clamshell. The only thing they didn't do is tape the clamshell shut!

So... shop at Fairway for a variety of reasons, just don't expect to get a satisfying lobster roll.


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  1. Although this is terrible news, thank you very much for the report. I have been a big fan of the BK Fairway and go there all the time, and I have to say, this really changes the way I perceive the business/store. The warm fuzzy feelings are fading away.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. Sad news. Last time I had it there it was definitely smaller than originally (when it often overflowed) but I was hoping it was an anomaly (it often depended on who was constructing it.) But it was still serviceable-- not the way you are describing. I guess from now on I'll stick to their bagel and lox for lunch (which hopefully is still a generous portion!)

      1. I was @ brooklyn faiway this past sunday and two of my friends had the lobster roll. Yes, it was smaller than the last time I had it several months ago, but was by no means non-existent. it's definitely not the great deal it once was. I too will stick to the lox and bagel, or even better the $1.50 hot dog platter.

        1. FAIRWAY sells their Lobster Salad in their deli deparetment for $9.99/lb. With the rise in food prices, how can they make a profit on a $9.99 item like a Lobster Roll Platter?

          You might try expressing your concern to the gals behind the counter ina nice way, instead of accusing them of cheating you. Being nice helps almost every time.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Fleur

            The price is not $9.99/lb. That's for 1/4 lb.

            1. re: son of a butcher

              Thanks for pointing out my error. The Lobster Salad in the deli is $9.99 per quarter pound.

              I have found that the prices on almost everything at FAIRWAY have gone up. There are very few items that are lower priced there than other stores. That was not the case before.

            2. re: Fleur


              Sorry if my writeup made it sound like I was an ass -- I was actually really quite polite about the whole thing. My tone was more... bemused than anything else.

              How can they make a profit? That's up to them. I have no problem with them upping the price -- just be up front about it.

              And as far as Fairway slipping (someone else's comment) I've actually found the staff to be more helpful of late. Great, friendly cashiers (especially if you head to the far left as you face the lines) and there's a 40ish year old black woman with freckles who hangs out by the transition from the fish area to the regular aisles and just calls out "Who needs help? What can I help you find?"... and she knows where EVERYTHING is. She's *great*.

              1. re: Peter

                Peter, I understand your frustration. My guess is that they faced the choice of raising the price or cutting the size of the portion. This is a choice many restaurants have had to make as well

                Most restaurant portions were too large for one person, but one can never have too much lobster.

                The staff at FAIRWAY is excellent. They seem to be very well trained, polite, helpful, and pleasant. Always someone nearby to help. This is not the case at other markets, like Key Food, or the yuppoie markets like Trader Joe and Whole Foods.

                1. re: Fleur

                  At which Trader Joes are you shopping? I've never received less than polite and effective service from the staff on Court St. (Or at least as effective as possible - if they don't have the yummy breakfast sausage anymore then they can't find me a package in the back...)

                  1. re: cazique

                    was thinking exactly the same thing about the Court St. location. Nicest & most helpful people there.

                  2. re: Fleur

                    RE: trader joe's

                    are you kidding. The staff at the new trader joe's on the upper west side is the freidnliest staff at any supermarket I have ever encountered.

                  3. re: Peter

                    I know exactly the woman you're talking about! She's great... helped me find the farro in two different places in the store. Also once paged the produce guy to bring out a new case of cilantro... he came running.

                2. I don't know: I've had Fairway's lobster roll perhaps a dozen times, and today's had the most lobster of any. Perhaps my preparer didn't get the memo. Or perhaps they've had a change of heart.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: acemdin

                    Sheeesh, now Mgmt will probably track down that employee and transfer/retrain him/her :-)