From an article in the Portsmouth Herald.
KITTERY, Maine — Three years after closing his well-known seafood eatery on Badger’s Island, Justin Hebert and his wife, Heidy, are getting ready to open again in the same place. And it couldn’t feel more like coming home.
“I couldn’t wait to come back,” said Hebert, who will open Union Lobster House in time for the July 4 weekend. “We were a huge part of the community before, and we want to become an established landmark again.”
Hebert owned Hebert Brothers Seafood, named for him and his twin brother, Michael, which opened on Badger’s Island in 2009 and quickly became well-known to patrons on both sides of Memorial Bridge. But when the bridge closed two years later, “it was ghostly” on the island, Hebert remembers.
“I had a fan base in Portsmouth (N.H.), but the lunch crowd did not want to drive 15 miles out of their way to come find us.”
He remembers the day before the bridge closed to traffic — July 27, 2011.
“We made 2,017 lobster rolls that day,” he said. “But the next day, we were staring at the next-door neighbor who was staring back at us. Badger’s Island was a dead end.”
The seasonal restaurant did not return in 2012. But the Heberts landed on their feet just fine. They opened The Seafood Hut in Rye, “which has just skyrocketed,” Heidy said. “It was just the right moment. We had just closed this, and we had the opportunity to go over there.”
But Maine kept calling, the couple said.
“We knew we had a great recipe here. Our customers became family,” Heidy said.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Badger’s Island building briefly opened their own restaurant and fish market, Union Lobster House. When they decided not to reopen, they called Justin and asked him if he wanted to come back. The couple decided to keep the name.
If he needed reinforcing that they had made the right decision, Hebert said, he certainly received it when he came before the Kittery Town Council recently for a victualer’s license. Council Chairman Jeff Thomson said his wife couldn’t wait for the place to open, and Councilor Chuck Denault welcomed the couple back to town.
“That was important to me, basically being welcomed back,” Justin said, tears welling in his eyes.
Union Lobster House will offer all the usual fare that Hebert Brothers did — seafood “your way” and plenty of it. The couple plans to offer daily specials and open a raw bar as well.
By the way, the answer is yes, they will be offering $5 lobster rolls on Fridays again.
“It feels so good to be back,” Heidy said. “I’m a strong believer in karma. You put good out and you get good back in return. And that’s really what has happened for us.”
“This is going to be great,” Hebert said. “I don’t have a negative bone in my body about this place. I’m convinced it’s going to work.”