There’s a lobster-roll food truck parked by a pot shop and a teen girl dancing in a lobster costume on a rural stretch of Highway 525 on Whidbey Island.
Move over, Dungeness crab. Lobster is the crustacean kingpin on this corner.
On the Rock Lobster recently started selling sandwiches next to Whidbey Island Cannabis.
“It’s kind of a lobster pot, if you will. Or a pot of lobster,” food truck mastermind Tyler “Chuck” Norris said. “You can grab your munchies and your medicine to go and enjoy both of them from the comfort of your home.”
A lobster roll is a classic New England comfort food sandwich. East Coast McDonald’s even offer a summer McLobster.
Cold lobster meat is mixed with celery, chives, lemon and mayo and served on a hot grilled bun. No shells to break. No bib needed.
Tyler Norris, 27, a former South Whidbey High School football standout, got the idea in college in San Diego. He and some buddies from Maine made a killing selling lobster tacos at California festivals. He started Soulr, a solar-powered mobile food cart, and was on Oxygen’s “Quit Your Day Job” about aspiring millennial entrepreneurs.
After returning to Whid-bey, he cooked up a plan with his dad, an island-famous scavenger showman.
John “Fish-On” Norris, 60, turns old sewing machines into tractors as art. As a “picker,” he found a human skull and cannon in abandoned storage lockers. Fish-On-John won the crown at last summer’s rootin’-tootin’ Mr. South Whidbey pageant.
The duo’s first lobster gig was a booth at the 2019 Island County Fair, where the dad is a bouncer at the beer garden, yet another talent. This year’s fair was canceled due to COVID-19.
No problem. John Norris had a 13-foot 1965 Silver Streak Sabre trailer at the ready for a food truck. Tyler’s Soulr cooler keeps the mixture chilled.
Leyrae Fontenot, 17, is the girl in the lobster suit and claw-bopper headband.
“A lot of people wave back at me and honk,” Leyrae said. “Kids love the lobster costume, so I dance for them. I do the floss.”
The floss is a dance move with repeated arm swings, from the back to the front. Like flossing, but with your body.
When she’s not reeling in customers she can be found working at the window.
The recipe uses claw and knuckle lobster pieces shipped in weekly from Maine, as are the buns.
The 6-inch Classic Roll, $18, is the basic spread. The Rico Roll, $21, adds avocados and chipotle aioli. The $20 Whidbey Roll is bedded with Beecher’s Mac & Cheese.
Adding $5 for Boston cream pie, tax and tip and lunch for two at a picnic table will set you back $60.
“A lot say it’s expensive, but it’s like, ‘Man, it’s lobster,’” Tyler said.
Hard to believe that during colonial times, prisoners and slaves were fed lobster because it was abundant and cheap. Colonists dubbed lobsters the “cockroaches of the sea.”
The food truck draws tourists and ferry traffic. A dancing lobster is hard to miss.
On a recent afternoon, a group of motorcycle riders filled one picnic table, and a senior couple sat at another. Others waited on orders.
The parking is shared by pot shop and food truck customers. Some hit up both places.
Leyrae dances by the road in her lobster costume for a few hours.
“Time goes by slowly towards the end a little bit. But it’s OK. It’s all good. I get paid really good,” she said.
Leyrae thought the summer before her last year of high school would be spent “cleaning houses for random people, just here and there.”
Now, she has status.
“They call me ‘Lobster Girl,’” she said.
She hopes to be a language interpreter. “I want to learn Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, ASL, maybe a little bit of Arabic.”
Now she speaks crustacean.
How does a person land a gig like this?
“I just came to get a lobster roll and my best friend got a job. I was like, ‘Oh, cool.’ He said, ‘You want a job, too? You can be a mascot.’ I was like, ‘I would love to do that.’ So now me and my best friend work together. He’s over there toasting buns,” she said.
“It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”
The food truck is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Monday.