Instead of taking a dip in a pot of boiling water, Louie the Lobster returned to cool ocean waters Friday, thanks to a Island Park restaurant’s act of mercy.
Peter’s Clam Bar has an annual tradition of pardoning a lobster, with help from town officials, as a way to celebrate National Lobster Week, said Butch Yamali, 54, who took over the 75-year-old restaurant four years ago.
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino officially pardoned the 22-pound lobster, which is estimated to be about 132 years old. Then Louie was handed over to Hempstead Bay Constables.
They took the large crustacean by boat to the Atlantic Beach Reef, where they returned it to its natural habitat.
“We take our sea life very seriously,” Santino said during a news conference. “Three out of every four Americans say they enjoy a lobster dinner.”
Yamali said the lobsters in his restaurant, particularly those that have been there a long time, have swelled up to massive sizes, which make them hard to cook and hard to consume.
Through some online research, he was able to estimate that Louie is at least 132 years old, dating the lobster back to the administration of President Grover Cleveland.
“It’s about the rings and it’s about the weight,” Yamali said. “So figuring out both things, we figured him to be about that old.”
Louie’s size and age helped make him one of the restaurant’s “biggest celebrities,” according to Yamali.
“Some guy came up to me and was like, ‘I’ll give you $1,000 for this lobster,’” said Yamali, who declined the offer. “He’s been here too long. It’s like selling your pet. Could you sell your pet? You just can’t.”
Yamali said letting Louie go was the humane thing to do. “This lobster is something that should be saved,” Yamali said. “It’s not all about money sometimes.”