Meet the Crew
Josh AllenDirector of Training and Organizational Development
Josh is the Director of Training and Organizational Development at Luke's Lobster. He was born and raised in Minnesota where he trained to be an actor at The Guthrie Theater at the University of Minnesota. Soon after graduating, Josh moved to NYC to pursue costume-building and quickly became obsessed with restaurants. He has served as almost every FOH position a restaurant group can offer and fell in love with training during his time as Director of Operations for Hearth Restaurant in the East Village, just around the corner from the original Luke's Lobster. Josh continued his studies at the University of Connecticut School of Business with a Masters in Human Resources Management. When he is not buried in studies he is a sculptor, a reader, and a wine-nerd.
Tracy AndersonAssistant General Manager, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Tracy has been with Luke's since she was scouted by our Plaza GM Gonca in 2016, and then quickly became an integral part of our Brooklyn Bridge Park shack. As a shift leader in BBP, Tracy was there when we took over the whole smokestack building and is excited to move to the Upper West Side to bring her talents to a new neighborhood. When she's not giving our guests the Luke's experience that we're known for, Tracy is spoiling her granddaughter Brianna.
Kristin CandelorePeople and Culture Generalist
Kristin joined the Luke's team back in the summer of 2015 after years slinging pizzas with California Pizza Kitchen. She started off as the Catering Coordinator in the City of Brotherly Love - where she was born and raised. In 2016 she took on the role of General Manager, and now spends lots of time on Amtrak traveling along the East Coast as our Director of Operations. If you ever need a train discount, she's your girl! When she's not at Luke's you can find Kristin hanging at home with her husband and her puggle, or slowly losing her hearing in a SoulCycle class.
Merritt CareyCommunity Relations Director
From her childhood, Merritt’s life has always been connected to the sea, and to the small coastal village of Tenants Harbor where her family has summered for generations. At age 11, aboard her 13ft Boston Whaler, Merritt’s first job was delivering cooked lobster, steamers and mussels to cruising boats in the harbor. Merritt attended Brown University and then went back to sea –aboard the second all-female team to compete in the Whitbread Around the World Ocean Race and then as a member of the first all-female America’s Cup team. Merritt settled in New Zealand where she attended law school. Returning home to Maine, Merritt practiced law for several years then turned consultant and found her passion for rural economic development and fisheries. In 2016, with Luke and local fishermen in Tenants Harbor, Merritt helped found the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op and then Maine’s first aquaculture Co-op which grows farm-raised scallops. Today, Merritt serves as Luke’s Director of Community Relations, a role she loves because it allows her to wear many different hats, including overseeing the Keeper Fund, Public Relations and running Luke’s at Tenants Harbor in the summer. Merritt lives in Yarmouth, Maine with her husband Chris where she stays busy with her three kiddos Liam, 17 Madeleine, 13 and Grace 9, and riding her two horses (Flurry & Oatmeal) whenever she can.
Allison CaseyCustomer Experience Director
A Mainer through and through, Allison found Luke's during her time studying at George Washington University when she answered a Craigslist ad looking for teammates who loved Vacationland. After graduating, she worked her way from a teammate to eventually become Director of Catering. In 2018 she returned to Maine, where she grows our catering program around the country, all from her "temporary" office in a large, unused, cooler at our seafood company, affectionately known as the "Catering Cave." When she's not delivering lobster rolls to Joe Biden, you can find Allison taking pictures of her food, doing Sunday crosswords, and wearing too much LL Bean. Just kidding, there's no such thing as too much LL Bean.
Kevin CaseyGeneral Manager, FiDi
Kevin Casey is the current General Manager of our Park Slope location. Kevin started as a Teammate and delivery person at our Upper West Side shack back in 2013 and has worked in many of our New York shacks throughout the years. Hailing from Western Massachusetts, he spent many summers in Maine growing up with his family, where he determined that the lobster roll is the very best way to eat lobster. When not at a Luke's, Kevin spends his time in the great outdoors, surfing, biking, gardening, writing music, enjoying all of the fine cuisine in the city, and especially working on creative and artistic projects.
Gonca CelikGeneral Manager, Upper West Side
Gonca has been with Luke’s for over six years now and it can finally be said that she’s starting to come out of her shell. She’s known for her extreme ambition to “win all the pins” and her lifelong dream of visiting Portland Head Light. Both are achievable.
Narie ChungRestaurant Group Controller
Narie joined the Luke's Lobster crew in 2017. Prior to Luke's Lobster, she spent 4 years on the accounting team at Momofuku working closely with their various restaurants and other ventures. Narie graduated from New York University and also earned a degree in Classic Pastry Arts from the French Culinary Institute. Narie and her husband, Anthony, love to travel and plan their trips around where and what to eat. You can spot them around Long Island City with their 3 dogs.
Ben ConniffCo-founder & Chief Innovation Officer
Ben Conniff is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Luke’s Lobster, with over 30 locations across 9 US cities and internationally in Japan and Taiwan. After answering Luke’s Craigslist ad in the summer of 2009 and opening our first location in the East Village one month later, Ben remains heavily involved in the day-to-day workings of Luke’s since the beginning.
Ben is also the author of Real Maine Food, and has written for Saveur, GQ, Tasting Table, and more. He was named to the Inc. and Zagat “30 Under 30” lists and serves as an advisor to restaurant, fishery, and agriculture businesses. He spends the majority of his time in Portland, ME.
Darren CowieGeneral Manager, Upper West Side
Darren has been with Luke's for more than two years, and is the 2018 recipient of the 2018 GM of the year award! He started his manager career flipping ice cream and singing for tips at Coldstone Creamery. Now you can find him watering his beautiful plants and training new managers in the Upper East Side. Darren does not enjoy long walks in the park but prefers playing hours of playstation talking mad smack online.
Torin CraigAssistant General Manager, Midtown East
Torin has worked in a wide variety of NYC restaurants before landing at Luke’s. He suffers from a minor shellfish allergy, but says that working under these “extreme” conditions makes every day just as challenging and exciting as the last. Outside of Luke’s, Torin is a self proclaimed “pocket monster”, keeping time on the drums in a handful of local music projects.
Allie EdmundGeneral Manager, Portland Pier
Allie was born and raised in Cherry Hill, NJ and grew up a competitive horseback rider. She traveled all around the country up until college, attending horse shows and gaining status and ranking in the equestrian world. After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in Childhood Studies and a minor in Psychology, she moved to Vermont for what she thought would be a year or two, but after falling in love with the restaurant world, ended up being 7 Years spent in Stowe, VT working at The Lodge at Spruce Peak. In 2019, Allie moved to South Portland with her boyfriend Sawyer and dog Owen, and is eager to spend her down time at the beach!
Meaghan DillonMarketing Director
Meaghan spearheads the marketing efforts of the brand which explains why she has more photos on her iPhone of lobster rolls than she does of people or dogs combined. Meaghan is a graduate of Fordham University and developed her love for all things food and culinary while working at the French Culinary Institute in SoHo. She moved on to work on the development team at Marcus Samuelsson Group where she was integral in opening a number of the celebrity chef's restaurants from Harlem to Bermuda. Meaghan currently lives in the East Village mere blocks from the original Luke's shack, where she alternates weekly between a shrimp roll and a lobster roll. She's also a passionate lover of pizza and all the reality TV that Time Warner has to offer.
Jake EllisWarehouse Manager
Emily FeldmanDirector of Ops Services
Emily is a Luke's original in both hire date and personality and is the rock of Luke's Lobster. She's the one that ensures all the LL stores are running smoothly and is the first call respondent to any emergencies that arise at the shops. When not running from store to store, Emily can be found enjoying the finer things in life. Whether that's watching a movie on her projector screen or making tomato sauce that would make any nonna jealous (secret ingredient: butter) - she's a quality over quantity gal, and that's probably what makes her so great at her job. If you're ever feeling stressed get in line for one of Emily's killer back rubs. While her hands may be slight, they are freakishly strong.
Denny FiaaliiWharf Manager
Addie FisherGeneral Manager, Brickell City Centre
Addie was raised in Hanover NH where she grew up competing with her brothers both on the field and on the slopes. Her passion for the arts allowed her to travel overseas where she had her first exhibition in photography and the love of traveling the world grew. Addie studied photography in college and was a high school art teacher before making the trip down to Miami to showcase her work at Art Basel in 2015. She fell in love with art, warm weather, and knowing she will never see snow again until she returns home for a snowy Christmas with her family.
Addie joined the Luke's family two years ago as the manager in Brickell City Centre. When shes not spending hours in her shack talking with guests and making memorable experiences, she teaches a dance class where her inner Beyonce takes the stage. Luke's lover by day, slaying queen by night.
Caleb FisherGeneral Manager, Farragut
Caleb Fisher started at Luke's in 2019, running our Georgetown shack in Washington, D.C. With a passion for service and food, it's no wonder that he's worked in the food service industry for most of his professional life. A determined and hard working individual, most of Caleb's friends and family consider him shy, but just wait until there is a crowd and you'll see him in his element.
Lauren GibsonVice President, E-Commerce + Retail
Lauren joined the Luke's team in 2011. As Director of Culinary Development, Lauren works alongside our Marketing and Operations teams to develop new and seasonal menu items for our shacks, and develops efficiencies and quality improvements to our core menu items. Lauren oversees sourcing and purchasing for all Luke's shacks, and spearheads the development of our line of frozen retail products available at Whole Foods Market and other retailers. Lauren's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for cooking stems back to age 10, when she held regular lemonade stands in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - which helped fund her BA degree in History & Chinese from the University of Pennsylvania. Although born and raised in NYC, she's happy to call Portland, Maine home now where she lives with Chris Jordan (Luke's Logistics Director) and their rambunctious pup Otis.
Eddie GreeneLogistics Coordinator, Co-Chair Diversity + Inclusion Committee
Imer HuertasAssistant General Manager, Back Bay
Imer is a recent college graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia. He was initially hired as a teammate and has moved up within the company to Assistant General Manager in our Rittenhouse shack. He's been with the company for 5 years now and enjoys the pace of the restaurant industry. One of his biggest accomplishments in life was hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2018, which he completed in 5 months and 1 day. His free time is spent cooking and discovering new mountains!
Bryan HoldenChief Development Officer
Having grown up in Cape Elizabeth and attending Bowdoin College, Bryan is the epitome of all things Maine. After stints in banking and consulting, Bryan decided to join the family business. Known as the Doze, Bryan is the ultimate Renaissance man: All-American lacrosse player, lover of theatre and art, deft carpenter and flexible yogi. It was once rumored that he grew the best mustache on the East Coast, an allegation he will neither confirm nor deny. But perhaps Bryan's most admirable characteristic is his uncanny ability to bring his unique sense of humor to any situation.
Luke HoldenFounder & Chief Executive Officer
Luke Holden grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine – a third-generation lobsterman who started learning the trade at age 13. After attending Georgetown University and beginning an investment banking career on Wall Street, Luke was remiss to find that every lobster roll available in New York was overpriced, drowning in mayo, and diluted with celery. He craved a real Maine-style roll and simply couldn’t find one.
Luke saw an opportunity to bring a casual seafood spot, like the homegrown lobster shacks of his childhood, to New York’s culinary landscape. In 2009, Luke decided to harness his passion for excellent seafood and his family’s 40-plus years in the Maine lobster industry to open the first Luke’s Lobster in the East Village with his dad Jeff, a lobster processor, and Ben Conniff. To keep up with demand, Luke and partners opened Luke’s Lobster’s own seafood processing facility in 2012. The complete vertical integration ensures every lobster served at Luke’s is handled with care and kept pristine.
Today, Luke spends the majority of the year in Maine, where he maintains relationships with lobstermen and oversees production at Luke’s Lobster’s processing facility. He also sits on the board of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, the Island Institute, and the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op, which he helped found. Luke’s donates a portion of its proceeds to The Ocean Foundation and the Island Institute, helping preserve Maine’s fishing communities and the sustainability of our oceans. Over the years, Luke has also been included on the Forbes’ 30 under 30, Inc 30 under 30, Zagat’s 30 under 30, and Crain’s 40 under 40.
Mike HoldenProduction Manager
Michael Holden, affectionally known as Mikey, has been with the company since 2012, working in various operations and development roles in Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. He graduated with a business degree from Skidmore College in upstate New York. Today, Mikey is the glue that holds the team together during new openings. A Maine native and the youngest Holden brother, Mikey approaches problems with a strong work ethic and a sense of humor. In his spare time he enjoys Boston Sports, playing golf, and strategy based board games.
Cassandra JohnsonGeneral Manager, Rittenhouse
In true Luke's fashion, Cassandra found her way to the company as a teammate through a Craigslist ad recruiting for the opening of our Rittenhouse shack in Philadelphia. From Teammate, to Shift Leader, to Senior Shift Leader, Cassandra grew to love lobster shack life so much so that - even when she took a brief sabbatical from the company to move to the 'burbs - Luke's was never far from her mind. As soon as she had the opportunity, she jumped back on the line as the GM of Rittenhouse. Now, 6 years from answering that fateful ad, she's followed the bright LobStar of Luke's all the way to San Francisco to GM our first west coast shack! When not slingin' lobster, you can find Cassandra... well, actually you probably can't find her. Because she's most likely at home with her husband and mustachio'd cat Tom Selleck or off exploring the wilds of California.
Heather KriegerAssistant General Manager, Las Vegas
Heather joined the Luke's team in 2017 when she decided she wanted to participate in something healthier than bartending. When she's not chatting up the guests at our shack on the fabulous Las Vegas Strip, she can be found perusing museums, riding roller coasters, reading classic literature (from Bukowksi to Austen to Kafka!) , sipping craft beers, and hanging out with her super duper rad kiddo. As a self-proclaimed "steward of the Earth," her favorite part about working at Luke's is how our respect for the environment has a huge impact on all aspects (big and small) within our company.
Adam LaiteVice President, Sales
Kurt LarryGeneral Manager, Bethesda
Kurt Larry is a Maryland native and has grown up in the Washington DC/MD areas. With 10 years of restaurant experience, Kurt started as a busser and rose to management level. He has been a General Manager with Luke’s since June of 2018, first at our Bethesda, MD location and currently at our Farragut location in Washington DC. Kurt has a passion for serving great food, providing great service and developing his team which was instilled in him during his time in culinary school. In his spare time he really enjoys traveling and spending time with his family and friends.
Thanh LeArea Manager, NYC
Thanh Le aka Le, comes from a long line of restaurants including TGI Fridays, Outback Steakhouse, and Houlihan's. Originally from Northern Virginia, Le came to New York in 2015 to join the restaurant Vapiano. After traveling the world and becoming a certified international trainer, Le joined Luke's Lobster in 2018. He is a family man with three beautiful daughters and a stunning wife to match. He enjoys princess tea parties and spending time with his family. Check him out at our FiDi and Midtown East locations.
Katie LivesayChief Marketing Officer
Katie Livesay joined the Luke’s Lobster team in 2020 as the Chief Marketing Officer. Hailing from upstate New York, Katie has called Maine her home base for the past 15 years. She moved to the Pine Tree state after accepting a job in Marketing at L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. She spent over 14 years in the marketing department at L.L. Bean overseeing media, brand strategy, partnerships, and consumer insights. Katie graduated with a BA in Economics and Health Care Administration from Union College, NY and MBA in International Marketing from Boston College.
In addition to being passionate about branding and marketing, Katie is an avid running, running full and half marathons annually and a longtime coach of Girls of the Run.
A proud mother of three: Ryan and Lauren (10) and Keira (7), Katie and her husband, Nick, are always planning their next family adventure.
Matthew LivingstonGeneral Manager, Las Vegas
Matthew Livingston, a happy-go-lucky Canadian who somehow landed in sunny and beautiful Las Vegas. He's currently the General Manager at the Fashion Show Mall location in Las Vegas, and has his Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality from UNLV. An avid foodie and Yelper extraordinaire, Matthew loves all sports, nature and spending time with his wife and three fur babies. Together, they love going on road trips and visiting Hawaii - their favorite destination!
Jason LouisGeneral Manager, Back Bay
Jason Louis was born and raised in Boston, and moved to Providence where he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Marketing. He decided however, to pursue a career in restaurant management. He spent some time in Virginia managing some restaurant concepts before returning back to Boston when he joined Luke's in 2019. Jason loves live concerts and traveling the world, and when he's not doing those things, he's usually hanging out with his faithful Boston Terrier, Logan.
Jay McDevittGeneral Manager, Upper East Side
A self-proclaimed urban mountain man, halal food connoisseur, and fantasy sports expert, Jay is the General Manager of our Garment District shack, having recently celebrated his 6th Anniversary with Luke's Lobster. After answering a Craigslist ad, he began at the Upper East Side in 2013. You can sometimes find him at his home in Queens or his favorite trail, but you are most likely to find him at his shack on 38th & Broadway, where you'll be sure to receive a warm welcome from him and his team!
JP McIntyreCustomer Service
JP McIntyre grew up in Baltimore near the Chesapeake Bay, which engendered in him a lifelong love of seafood and a passion for sustainable fishing methods. He is incredibly proud to bring his decade of hospitality experience to the team at Luke's Lobster. Look for him at Luke's Lobster Chicago City Hall, where he'll be happy to serve you the best seafood you've every tasted.
Ben McKinneyVice President of Operations, Seafood Company
Haleigh PetroeVice President of People + Culture
Haleigh Petroe is the VP of People + Culture for Luke's Lobster. She was one of the first hires in 2009 at our original East Village shack and climbed up the ladder from roll slinger to General Manager to Director of HR to VP of People + Culture. She doesn't much like ladders though. Over the last 10 years, Haleigh has focused on bringing great people into the organization and growing the Luke's community, most recently at our processing plant in Saco, Maine. In 2016, she earned her SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) Professional Certification through Pace University. Also, Haleigh has notably won 2nd place in our office Halloween costume contest 3 years running (next year is her year). You can find Haleigh in Brooklyn, NY walking her dachshund Begbie or trying to fix her '96 Jeep Cherokee.
Klaudia RamosSenior Staff Accountant
Klaudia Ramos was born and raised in New York and joined the Luke's team in 2020. After graduating from Baruch College with a BA in Accounting, she worked for The Standard, High Line and The Brooklyn Brewery in the accounting department. KlaudiaI loves to travel to new places and see Broadway and Off-Broadway shows with her partner. She also has a maltese dog who she spoils with treats and hugs, and who loves to take car rides with her.
Virginia RectorVice President of Operations, Restaurant Group
Virginia watched the Muppets take Manhattan so many times as a child that at 22 she packed up a U-Haul with $600 in her bank account and moved to New York City. Like many failed actresses, she quickly realized that being able to pay rent and eat was more important than seeing her name in lights. Little did she know her true love, hospitality was waiting just around the corner. Virginia has run operations for TGI Friday's, BR Guest Hospitality, Joes Crab Shack, The Meatball Shop and found a forever home here at Luke's Lobster. Virginia has opened up 17 restaurants in her career and can't wait for the next ones to come. She's fed everyone from Warren Buffet, to the Rockettes, to our community soup kitchens.
Virginia oversees operations all across the country so you can most likely find her with our awesome teams from coast to coast, working reg during our busiest shifts, inspecting under refrigerators, in the nearest airport lounge on her laptop or phone, or doing very important research for new cocktail development on the beach.
We are so lucky at Luke's to build a family who truly embodies our core values of Taste, Transparency, and Purpose-Virginia feels constantly humbled by the hard work, good vibes, and passion of those around her.
Frankie RodriguezGeneral Manager, Union Square
Frankie is a native New Yorker and has worked in the restaurant biz for several years. He started at Luke's in 2018, and it's taken him all the way from the Upper West Side to Union Square and even to Maine. Since working at Luke's, Frankie's been focused on a healthier lifestyle, staying active and cutting out those carbs. He is known to occasionally binge on conspiracy theory videos though. You can find Frankie's smiling face at our Union Square shack daily.
Erica SedlerRegional Sales Manager
Erica dabbled in a few different career paths, and finally while working as an accountant/analyst for a renewable energy investment company, she realized it was about time she ditched quickbooks and set off on a big adventure. She moved to a rural town in Thailand and taught English to a class of 35 sixth graders, and backpacked throughout Asia for a year. Here she realized she would not return to a career in accounting and learned a better idea of the type of company she'd like to work for.
She landed back at Stonewall Kitchen (where she interned in college) in the marketing/sales dept. Wanting to be closer to her home in Portland, Erica found her next job as a Regional Sales Manager at Luke's Lobster, which she believes will be her career home for a looooooong time. She's super pumped to work for a company like Luke's in her home state, and feels destined to be in sales slinging lobsters in this innovative and fast growing company.
Jennings SmithGeneral Manager, Downtown Crossing
Jennings Smith is the Assistant Manager for our Back Bay location in Boston. He was born in a no man's land in North Carolina, too big to be called a small town, and too small to be called anything else. After developing a passion for music, he moved to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music and has remained there ever since. His journey with Luke's started in 2017 as a teammate, then shift leader, until he ultimately assumed the role of Assistant General Manager. When not at Luke's, he can be found playing guitars with way too many strings on them and (unsuccessfully) trying to convince his cat Millie that she is not the head of the household.
Steve SongChief Financial Officer
Steve Song is the Chief Financial Officer for Luke's Lobster having joined the crew in 2016. Prior to Luke's Lobster, he spent 14 years as a private equity investment professional working with various companies and management teams across a variety of industries. He began his career at JPMorgan in 2001 before working at hedge funds and private equity firms including Magnetar Capital and Altpoint Capital.
Since 2011, Steve has also served a Board Member of Minds Matter of NYC, a nonprofit organization serving low-income high school students, and served as its board chair until 2018. He has served on the Board of Directors for private companies, including Ford Models, AHN International and Sanchez Resources. Steve graduated with a joint Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics-Mathematics from Columbia University in 2001. He has traveled to over 30 countries and has watched a game at every Major League Baseball stadium. He is based in New York City.
Alex VargasPerformance Marketing Manager
Alex is a native Californian having grown up in the Los Angeles area and also living in the San Francisco area for a handful of years. He has a BA in Fine Arts with an emphasis in conceptual design from UCSB and an MBA from Boston University in Marketing Strategy and Organizational Behavior.
He loves to cook meals inspired by a single ingredient or theme, watch the Dodgers, and explore the Portland food and microbrew scene. He is an avid home brewer and fitness enthusiast. Since 2017 he has called Maine home and lives in Cape Elizabeth with his wife Carly and Bernedoodle Libby.
Shelbi WassickMarketing Manager
Shelbi Wassick is a born and raised Mainer. She grew up in the Sebago Lake region and now resides in Portland. She joins Luke's as the Marketing Manager, assisting the marketing team with content creation, social media, and customer service. She developed her love of all things Maine during her time as online editor for Maine and Maine Home+Design magazines. When she is not eating her way through Maine's burgeoning culinary scene you can find her enjoying the natural resources of Moosehead Lake during all the seasons or spending quality time with her large, loud, and lovely family.
Jodie ZhaoGeneral Manager, Garment District
Jodie Zhao was born and raised in Brooklyn, and found herself at Luke's in 2014, starting off as a teammate in our Upper East Side shack. In 2016, she was promoted to shift leader, and then in 2019 she was promoted to Assistant General Manager of our Plaza shack where she crushes rolls on the daily in our small yet mighty space. Jodie graduated from City Tech with a Hospitality Management degree, and is a lover of food, houseplants, and techno.
February 2020 LobStar: Meet Adrian Velasquez
Adrian Velasquez joined Luke’s just last June in our Downtown Crossing shack. A born and bred Bostonian, he’s in his third year at Northeastern as an undergrad, and balancing crushing lobster rolls with a 40-hour per week internship in finance learning data analysis. No big deal.
With Luke’s as his first restaurant gig, Adrian was a clear choice as this month’s LobStar, not only for his A+ work ethic but for the awesome attitude he brings to every shift.
Adrian hopes to one day continue working in finance, ideally remotely so that he can travel the world. Until then, you’ll find him lifting weights, meditating, and listening to music (when he’s not serving up Boston’s favorite lobster roll of course). Thanks for choosing Luke’s Adrian!
January 2020 LobStar: Meet Kin Lau
Kin Lau, a shiftleader in our FiDi shack, joined the Luke's fam in spring 2017. Kin joined Luke's straight after graduating from City College as a psych major and a theater minor, but his real passion lies in food. After growing up in NYC's Chinatown, Kin's father owned his own Chinese restaurant in Sunset Park, igniting his love for all things culinary.
When he's not at work making lobster rolls, Kin is cooking daily, whether it's stews in the winter or stir-frys in his Astoria apartment. With the goal of being a chef, he finds himself in Flushing trying all different kinds of food, like his favorite fried prawns with candied walnuts.
After two and a half years in FiDi, Kin finds comfort in the structure of Luke's -- not to mention the serious storage of his home shack which is the envy of many of our other shacks, but he says it's the guests that he loves coming into work to see. "A lot of our regulars have come in weekly or sometimes more since I've been here, and it's nice to know they're coming in for the lobster but also for the company." Congrats Kin for being our first LobStar of 2020! 🌟
December 2019 LobStar: Meet Joao Paco
Joao Paco has been working in the sanitation department at Luke’s Seafood Company for just under a year, but he’s already made a serious impression on everyone he’s worked with.
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joao arrived in Maine in December of 2018 after his wife’s encouragement and her own love for Maine. When some friends suggested he apply to Luke’s, he took their word for it and joined the team last January.
His tasks include thoroughly sanitizing every single surface and piece of equipment after processing, but according to Joao, it’s the people he works with that keep him coming back. And according to his manager Peter, “Joao is the perfect role model for Food Safety Engineer, leaving no task unfinished and spreading his positive attitude and pleasant disposition to all team members.” He’s also newly a father of two, welcoming his second child, a baby girl, this month. Congrats Joao and thank you for being our December LobStar! 🌟🌟🌟
November 2019 LobStar: Meet Alex Daley
Alex Daley has been crushing rolls and designing chalkboards at Luke’s in DC for almost five years now. Originally from Brooklyn, she started working in our Penn Quarter location during undergrad at Howard University. 📚
Despite currently working a full time job for the Department of Education, applying for her Masters in speech pathology, and working on her calligraphy (check out @daley.lettering ✍️), Alex still manages to be a leader in her shack, an unsung hero working the grill daily.
Even with her jam packed schedule, Alex manages to come into work with a smile every day, and says she’s stayed at Luke’s because of the team and the guests. “It’s the first job I’ve had that I was excited to come into work for.” We feel the same way — Alex really demonstrates what a true LobStar is.⭐️
October 2019 LobStar: Meet Sopheak Lay
Working at a lobster processing plant is in Sopheak Lay’s blood. He started at Luke’s Seafood Company in Saco, ME in 2012 working part time as a high school student in our RTE room (or ready-to-eat, where the lobster goes right after it’s perfectly steamed in order to be cooled, picked, and packed).
Originally from Cambodia, Sopheak moved to Maine about 13 years ago, and started at Luke’s as a picker after his parents suggestion — they too work in the RTE room and have been pickers for Luke’s since we opened as well as for Luke’s dad Jeff's lobster processing plant even before that.
After a few years in RTE, Sopheak eventually became full-time during college, where he's getting his degree in theoretical math. He's since shifted to our logistics department where he gets to use his own analytical skills, which he hopes to put to good use down the road in his career. In his spare time, you’ll find him studying for school of course. Congrats to our October #LobStar! ⭐️
September 2019 LobStar: Meet Heather Krieger
When Heather Krieger started at our Las Vegas shack in 2017, she had just come off of a bartending gig so she was no stranger to hospitality. After quickly moving up from being a teammate to a shift leader, Heather shined in her role, and her energy and commitment to customer service in the shack made her a no-brainer for our September LobStar. ⭐️
Heather’s 15-year-old son, affectionately nicknamed Gumby is a regular face at the shack too, consistently ordering our Lobster Grilled Cheese, as a growing boy should. Fun fact: Heather and her son are Disney fanatics, with annual passes for Disneyworld AND Disneyland, and big plans to visit Tokyo Disney. We’ll be sure to let our Japan locations know to throw on the Lobster Grilled Cheese when they’re coming. Thanks Heather for choosing Luke’s!
August 2019 LobStar: Meet Carlos Ayala
Carlos Ayala joined our team in 2013 while looking for a job during his time off from school at USM. His first task was in our raw tail room, grading lobster tails by size before they’re shipped to our partners, but he was always peeking over his boss Freddy’s shoulder, interested in the documentation of it all.
After a few years going back and forth between getting his biology degree and working at our Seafood Company up in Saco, ME, Carlos was recently promoted to assistant supervisor. He’s responsible for ensuring that our tail grades are accurate and we’re shipping 4-5 oz tails, while looking sharp doing it.
His next goal is med school, where he hopes to study pediatrics — he’s got plenty of practice with 9 nephews and nieces. After a long day at the plant and a 5:30 am start, you’ll probably find him watching movies like the self-described cinephile he is. #LobStar
July 2019 LobStar: Meet Imalia Gansop
Imalia Gansop started working at Luke's in 2017 while a sophomore at NYU. She was on the opening team at Union Square, after seeing a Luke's hiring post on Craigslist (where else?) and has been part of the family ever since. After a study abroad stint in Berlin late last year, Imalia returned to Luke's, this time switching over to Midtown East, quickly adjusting to the pace of midtown lunch!
Imalia graduated from NYU this past May with a degree in Cinema Studies, and naturally spends her time away from Luke's watching movies on Netflix and HBO. We are thrilled to have Imalia on our team, and as our Director of Operations, Kristin put it, "she's an absolute staple for morale in the shack.” And that's why she's our July LobStar. Photo credit: @vanumal
June 2019 LobStar: Meet Chenda Chamreoun
Chenda Chamreoun starts her day by waking up at 2:40 am to get to Luke's Seafood Company in Saco, ME by 4 am. She jumps right into action by doing a sanitation inspection to make sure all of the equipment in our production rooms is perfectly clean and sanitized before we begin processing thousands of pounds of lobster or crab that day. Not only does she ensure the cleanliness of our equipment, but she's a crucial member of our quality assurance team in Saco, making sure that after our lobster and crab is steamed and picked, that it's been thoroughly inspected for shells and cartilage before being packed and shipped to our partners and shacks around the country. Yes, she gets to eat a LOT of lobster(#workperks).
Chenda has been with Luke's since 2013 after moving to Maine from Cambodia, and we couldn't be more appreciative that she chose Luke's to work and grow at as such an important member of our team.
May 2019 LobStar: Meet Briana Battle
Briana started working at our Farragut location in DC on our second day open in 2018. Known throughout 17th St for her charisma and friendliness, she literally brings in lobster lovers off the street to try our rolls, and she’s even been known to convince some Secret Service staffers that they need their Luke’s fix during their coffee breaks next door. Briana’s charm and knack for hospitality are what make her our May #LobStar and we couldn’t be happier that she chose us as her home.
April 2019 LobStar: Meet Carla Wright
Carla Wright was born and raised in San Francisco, and we're lucky enough to have had her on our team in SoMa since day 1. Since working at Luke's, Carla's been able to further develop her passion for food and restaurants, preferring to be on the line prepping our signature lobster rolls for the good people of SF.
A Food Network fanatic, when she's not at Luke's crushing rolls, you'll find her at home with her 11-year-old daughter in the kitchen (where else?). Replicating the food from her favorite shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, the duo likes to put their own spin on these chefs' signatures.
Carla hopes to continue working in restaurants throughout her career, and has just recently started thinking of attending culinary school to hone her skills. With our SoMa being one of our busiest shacks in the country, having a rock like Carla has made us settle right in on the West Coast. Make sure to say hello next time you grab a lobster roll in SF!
March 2019 LobStar: Meet Denny Fiaalii
After fishing on the Bering Sea in Alaska for 10 years and meeting his wife Sabrina, Denny Fiaalii ended up moving to her home state of Maine almost four years ago, where they both work at our Seafood Company in Saco, Maine.
Denny started in our production facility (where we cook our seafood to perfection right off the dock to bring you those tasty rolls) and is an integral part of our crab and lobster production while also managing our lobster buying station at Portland Pier.
Running the Portland Pier station includes everything from offloading lobster from our fishermen’s catch that day to supplying bait for a lobsterman’s haul. Our buying station sits right beside our new restaurant in Portland (opening this summer ☀️) so make sure to say hey to Denny when you’re getting your lobster fix on the pier!
February 2019 LobStar: Meet Sam Garber
Born in NYC but raised in San Francisco, Sam Garber found himself back in New York when he attended the Stella Adler Studio of Acting at NYU. After graduating and looking for some part-time work, Sam thought back on his many visits to Luke's in the East Village and figured, if he liked eating there, he might like working there.
As part of the post-Hurricane Sandy team after our FiDi shack closed for several months in 2012, Sam’s been crushing rolls at Luke’s now for almost 6 years. Considered "the mayor" by his team, Sam's been known to recognize not just regular guests' orders, but their online orders as well.
While several hours of his week are spent making lobster rolls, his passion is acting, whether in a web series, public access talk shows, or on stage, in a 5 1/2 hour long play with breaks for dinner and dessert (the performance he will remember the most, he says). Be sure to give him a shout next time you’re in our FiDi shack!
January 2019 LobStar: Meet Tiffany Patterson
Tiffany Patterson started at Luke’s over four years ago, and has made lobster rolls in most of our New York shacks since.
Currently at our Nomad shack on 25th Street, she spends half her time at Luke’s and the other half running two e-commerce businesses, a mobile nail spa, and a vegan catering business. Somehow she still has the energy to bring a smile while crushing rolls at Luke’s.
Originally from the Lower East Side, she now lives in Brooklyn, chasing after her two Jack Russells. Say hi to Tiffany next time you’re in our Nomad shack!
December 2018 LobStar: Meet Sierra Heinzman
We’re really lucky that Sierra Heinzman was working the dessert station at her last job in Philly when she realized she was looking for something a bit more fast paced (and also, she didn’t like dessert).
Enter her sister Brittah, who already worked at Luke’s in Rittenhouse, which led to Sierra joining the team a couple of years ago. She’s now a shiftleader and integral part of our Rittenhouse shack.
When she’s not crushing rolls (and maybe having a Crab Grilled Cheese on her break ), you might find her perfecting her sushi skills with the techniques she picked up in her culinary school training. You’re a LobStar, Sierra and we’re lucky to have ya!
October 2018 LobStar: Meet Davon Shelton
Davon Shelton was one of the original teammates who opened Luke’s Lobster City Hall in Chicago in 2015. He joined us as a teammate while finishing up college at Chicago State, where he studied Communications and graced the stage in theater performances and the mic in radio broadcasts. Davon continues his passion for communications and radio today in his weekly Friday radio show on WCSU, where he talks about the intersection of sports and music.
Davon’s the guy that you cannot talk to without breaking out in a smile, either from one of his Davon-isms (“Happy Friday Eve” if you meet him on a Thursday), or just because his own smile is so big you can’t help imitating. Davon is more than just tag lines—his genuine conversation with guests and helpful hospitality has earned him 10x more mentions in Yelp and Google reviews than any other teammate—all of them glowing. His infectious personality is what qualified him to be one of two shift leaders to head to San Francisco and open our newest shack —and he shined from open to close.
Congratulations Davon on going above and beyond to earn the first ever monthly Luke’s Teammate Spotlight!