If you say the word “lobsta” in certain circles on the east side, for many, the name Kevin Smith immediately comes to the mind. That’s because Smith has turned a cottage industry, run on a wing and a prayer (well, make that a claw and a prayer) into a thriving one-man operation.
Smith is president, CEO and chief bottle washer of Lobsta Bakes of Maine, a fitting tribute to his native roots growing up on the Atlantic coast.

“I was doing this as a sideline, out of my Bounty Seafood shop, for years,” explains Smith in his trademark Maine accent. “But it wasn’t until 2005 that I decided to sell the shop and get in this full-time.”
Promising an authentic New England-style lobster bake, Smith rolls up to clients’ homes with his own steamer oven on wheels, serving freshly cooked crustaceans poolside or wherever you might want the menu delivered. (The steamer is state of the art, with three-bay sink, gas grill hook-up and its own lobster tanks.)

“I always call it a backyard lobster party” when explaining his services to potential clients, says Smith. “Well, an upscale backyard lobster party.”

How upscale? Lobsters run $35 per person for a fourth-pound serving, and edge up to $50 per person for a Surf & Turf of lobster or Alaskan King Crab leg accompanied by a filet mignon. Of course, you can add in New England clam chowda for another $5 a head (minimum order of 25 people), but Smith provides all the paper plates, wet naps and lobster bibs you could want — throwing in mussels in garlic wine sauce, steamed corn on the cob, red skin potatoes and cole slaw as part of the door-to-door service. Smith estimates he caters some 40 to 100 parties per month, with the summer months “particularly crazy” followed by the holiday season.

Smith – who grew up Swans Island, six miles off the coast of Maine — arrived in Cincinnati in 1992, opening Bounty Seafood II along Salem Road in Anderson Township (the “II” in honor of the original Bounty Seafood shop, still operated by Smith’s family in Rockland, Maine).
The former commercial fisherman turned shopkeeper turned caterer still has the lobsters flown in fresh from the “home office” in Rockland. “A lot of Cincinnatians go to New England in the summertime, so I find a lot of people here are pretty familiar with lobsta bakes.”

That said, it’s a new experience for some. “I’ve also learned how many people here have never eaten a lobster until they meet me.”

Smith says the beauty of his business is repeat customers: “It’s very seldom we don’t have people who want to have bakes every year.”