Whole fried clam bellies with fries; lobster tots; Traditional Maine lobster roll. (Photos/Kaitlin Kent, @kaitlinsuper)
Julianne Lilly is a lobster fanatic. She eats, sleeps and breathes lobster. “I started from an early age gnawing on lobster rolls, it’s my favorite food,” she said. Growing up in Rhode Island and vacationing in Maine, she became accustomed to the traditional style Maine lobster roll.
After working in the food industry for 30 years she decided it was time to bring her passion for lobster rolls to Jacksonville. Before she heard of Cousins Maine Lobster, she had big dreams to open up her own shop selling authentic Maine lobster rolls, whole clam bellies, haddock and other fresh Maine seafood.
“I always tried to think ‘how am I going to do this?’ Before the cousins I thought I could fly it to the airport and go pick it up and it will be cheaper but I’ll have do that every morning.”
Julianne Lilly shares stories about the Cousins Maine Lobster family. (Photo/Kaitlin Kent, @kaitlinsuper)
When she closed the deal to open a brick and mortar Julianne went to Maine and followed her lobster all the way to the roll. She flew to Portland, got on a boat and pulled traps. Maine is all about sustainable fishing so you have to check your lobster before you net it. If they have eggs or are over a certain weight you have to throw them back. The ideal lobster with the sweetest meat is between a pound ¼ to pound ½.
A year later, these lobsters come out of the water in Maine, straight to the package and directly to Julianne. The Neptune Beach location opened July 27 to crowds of people. “I had no idea people loved lobster the way that I loved lobster,” she said. People loved it so much that they ran out of food but Julianne says this will never happen again so that they can satisfy everyone’s lobster cravings.
All of the products are shipped from Maine. From the bread for the lobster rolls, to the lobster itself to the Whoopie Pies, everything you eat at Cousin’s is fresh from Maine.
According to Julianne, “a true Maine lobster roll is traditionally made with bread from Maine. We get our bread baked in a bakery from Maine and shipped here. It’s like a traditional hot dog roll with the sides cut off. So you butter both sides, grill it like a grilled cheese and then if you’re a true Mainite you only eat it with a dollop of mayo and the bottom and then large chunks of claw and knuckle meat and you don’t shred it, and you don’t toss it in mayonnaise or celery. And it’s just good that way.”
Employees at Cousins Maine Lobster in Jacksonville, Florida prepare lobster rolls. (Photo/Kaitlin Kent, @kaitlinsuper)
If your mouth is watering and you’re ready to sink your teeth into a real Maine lobster roll there are two variations to choose from. You have the classic Maine lobster roll with a dollop of mayo down the center and piled high with colossal chunks of chilled claw meat. The second is a Connecticut roll which is less traditional but still incredibly tasty. It starts the same way with bread from Maine and sweet claw meat that is warmed in lemon butter.
If lobster isn’t your thing, try the clam bellies and of course the fries which have the perfect amount of crunch. They even have a chicken sandwich that according to Julianne is pretty great too! Wash it down with a Moxie soda and a Whoopie Pie if you’re a true Mainite.
It has been a long year of hard work to get the Cousins Maine Lobster up and running in Jacksonville but Julianne feels like she has gained more than a business in the process. “I truly feel like a cousin. I feel like I gained a family.”
If you’re ready to fulfill your lobster roll cravings, Cousins is open everyday from 11AM – 9PM. Although it’s a small shop, there are big plans to add on a patio so stay tuned!
Address – 630-14 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL 32266
Phone – 904.246.0304
Instagram – @cousinsmainelobster