Florida is a target market for Maryland-based Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll

The chain plans a Saint Johns location in late summer, with more on the way, including one in St. Johns Town Center.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls plans to open in The Pavilion at Durbin Park.
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls plans to open in The Pavilion at Durbin Park.
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls
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Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls is making a push in Northeast Florida.

There is already a location at 708 Centre St. in Fernandina Beach. By the end of the summer, there will be one at 120 Durbin Park Drive, Suite D1, in The Pavilion at Durbin Park in Saint Johns County. 

Other Florida locations are in Belleair Bluffs, Bradenton, Fort Myers, Miami, Panama City Beach and St. Petersburg.

Locations in St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville and in St. Augustine and Orlando and are in the works.

Mason’s is based in Annapolis, Maryland. It has 30 locations in the U.S. One is being planned for Milan, Italy.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls CEO and founder Dan Beck. The business is named after his son, Mason.

The first opened in 2014 in Annapolis. The company is named after CEO and founder Dan Beck’s son, Mason. The “famous” part of the name is a bit of marketing, he said.

“I always say, come on and find out. It kind of gives the impression that it’s been around a long time,” he said.

Beck worked in restaurants for much of his life and later became a seafood buyer. That took him to Maine where he developed the idea for his business.

Simple menu

The restaurant’s menu is simple. Customers can choose from a Maine lobster roll, served cold; a Connecticut lobster roll,  served warm on a toasted roll; a lobster salad roll, a shrimp roll, a BLT lobster roll, a crab roll and what they call the Bar Harbor, which is a lobster roll with lobster tail meat placed on top.

There are other lobster-inspired choices like lobster mac & cheese, grilled cheese and lobster sandwich and lobster bisque.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls offers five styles of rolls.
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls

All of the rolls are served in a traditional New England top-loaded bun.

Beck compares his concept to that of Five Guys hamburgers and its small menu. He also likes that the product’s name is in the branding, like Kentucky Fried Chicken, now known as KFC.

Mason’s has partnered with a lobster fleet of 177 boats out of Penobscot, Maine. The lobsters are caught and processed the same day and shipped frozen to Mason’s locations.

The rolls are made with claw and knuckle meat because the texture is more pliable and sweeter than the tail meat, Beck said.

All of the menu items are made to order in the restaurant.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls operates in 12 states, Washington, D.C., and Milan, Italy.
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls

The rolls are a splurge. For around $20, customers get five or six bites of decadence.

Beck readily admits that his product is not an everyday lunch.

Florida expansion

It is also a reason Florida is an expansion target. Lobster rolls are thought of as a summer food in New England, Beck said. Summer weather starts earlier and lasts longer in Florida. Also, Florida is surrounded on three sides by water. Lobster and the ocean are a match.

He sees a large customer base in the state.

“Florida is booming. So a lot of people moved there from other states. A lot of people who have moved to Florida are from the Northeast, so they understand the product and are familiar with it.”

Florida has tourists ready to spend money.

“Even though people are really kind of cutting back on spending, they’re still willing to splurge on vacation,” he said.

Saint Johns franchise

Michael Taradash is the franchisee in Saint Johns. He is awaiting permitting from St. Johns County to begin the estimated $500,000 build-out. Jacksonville-based Adkins Construction is the contractor. 

Taradash said he wants to open by August.

Michael Taradash is the franchise owner for Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls planned in St. Augustine.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week and have 12 to 14 employees.

Taradash, 61, is a mechanical engineer by trade but his family has extensive franchise experience, having owned McDonald’s restaurants for 25 years.

They chose Mason’s because it is new to the area. The Fernandina location opened in October 2023.

“It’s an opportunity to bring a new concept into a new area. I think Mason’s has a very good product. We can give the customers something different,” Taradash said.

Cousins Maine Lobster, which opened in 2018 at 630 Atlantic Blvd. in Neptune Beach, is a similar concept. Boston-based Lobstah on a Roll opened in St. Augustine in 2022.

Durbin Park provides plenty of potential customers with Baptist Medical Center South and hotels in the area. Apartments are being built nearby.

Taradash paid $30,000 for the franchise rights. He also will own the St. Augustine restaurant. He is looking for a location around St. George Street, he said.

He wants to have a Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls food trailer operating by the end of the year.

“It’s only going to be for the bigger events like the TPC, Daytona 500 and maybe Nights of Lights in St. Augustine.”



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