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Early-morning fire closes doors of iconic Seabrook restaurant

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 20. 2017 8:18PM
Firefighters work to douse a blaze that broke out early Sunday at Brown's Lobster Pound on Route 286 in Seabrook. (COURTESY SEABROOK FIRE DEPARTMENT)

SEABROOK — A fire early Sunday caused extensive damage at Brown’s Lobster Pound, an iconic Seacoast restaurant likely to miss the final few weeks of the summer season.

Owner Bruce Brown, who said his father opened the Lobster Pound on Route 286 in 1950, vowed to get the family-run business up and running again, although he wasn’t sure how long it would take.

“That little fire did a lot of damage,” said Brown, who surveyed the ruined kitchen Sunday morning after firefighters doused the last of any remaining hot spots.

Firefighters got the call just before 3 a.m. and were on the scene until around 7:30 a.m.

Brown said much of the damage was contained to the kitchen; he believes the fire may have been electrical. The building appears to be structurally sound and the dining area made it through with only a coating of soot, he said.

There were no injuries.

“We were fortunate it wasn’t worse,” Brown said. 

The call came in at 3 a.m. Sunday that Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook was on fire. The kitchen suffered the most damage. (COURTESY SEABROOK FIRE DEPARTMENT)

He said Brown’s is hoping to take part in the annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival Sept. 8-10 with its usual selection — lobster rolls, onion rings and fried clams. 

Brown said several local business have offered use of their equipment and facilities if the family needs help to make it to the seafood festival. One of the offers came from right across the street at Markey’s Lobster Pool. Brown said his neighbor offered to assist however he could.

The kitchen was heavily damaged in a fire at Brown's Lobster Pound on Sunday. The owners at the popular beach spot are hoping to reopen soon. (COURTESY OF BROWN FAMILY)

"We would do the same for them," Brown said. "We've had a lot of generous offers."

At the back of the restaurant on Sunday afternoon, employee Paul Wright was disposing of about 140 pounds of lobsters that didn’t survive the fire.

Wright, who described his job duties as “a little bit of everything,” said the chilling system for the lobster tanks kept the water cool enough to prevent the loss from being even greater.

“We were able to save about a thousand pounds’ worth” of lobster, Wright said. 

The front of the building, facing the ocean, and the take-out window where generations have placed orders after a day at the beach, showed no damage.

Wright said he had turned away dozens of diners who hadn’t heard about the fire, many of them arriving around lunchtime. 

“I’ve always know Mr. Brown. He’s done a lot of good for the town,” said Ed Hess of Seabrook, a former selectman who stopped by to offer support to the family. “I’m sure of one thing — he will be back in business.”

“Everybody knows about it. You say Brown’s and they know where it is and what it is,” said Richard Smith of Sandown, who estimated he’s been coming to Brown’s since the 1980s, if not 1970s. 

Smith said his family has a tradition of coming for New Year’s Eve and started coming for Easter, too. 

“It’s packed to the hilt. It’s good any time of the year,” he said. 

Brown, who turned 80 last week, said the family operation includes two of his sons and one grandson. 

He said the restaurant traditionally stays open through the fall, then is open on weekends and holidays until the spring.

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