Lobster, Seamless, Amazon and a Hot Summer Night

It’s 90 degrees and humid in NYC today. Do you know what this time of year & weather calls for in the Northeast? Lobster rolls! I’m going to find some tasty lobster meat and put together some delicious rolls.

The Process:

Step 1 –> A quick scan of Yelp shows me there’s only one legit fish market between Flatiron (work) and Hell’s Kitchen (home). Unfortunately, it’s located behind Port Authority & near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance on a summer Friday with cars and buses fighting to get out of town – no thanks.

Step 2 –> Luckily there’s a Whole Foods across the street from my office on 7th between 24 & 25th St. It’s summer, and they’re an upscale grocery chain; they must have some fresh lobster, right? Wrong! For $35.99, I can get 8 oz of already cooked, frozen lobster meat – no thanks.

Step 3 –> That’s no big deal, as there are 2 grocery stores within a few blocks of my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen: the offbeat Amish Market and the typical Manhattan Food Emporium. I may be sacrificing quality, but at least I’ll get some lobster meat, right? Wrong! After 20 minutes of walking the neighborhood, I find that neither store has any fresh or frozen lobster in stock on a Friday night on the eve of June.

Step 4 –> Time to call it quits; we’re not having lobster rolls tonight. I’m hot & thirsty, I’ve been to 3 grocery stores, and I haven’t even procured the 1st ingredient of a delicious lobster roll, never mind trying to find a top sliced Pepperidge Farm roll that would have held the creamy, lobster-y goodness. So, with some regret, I hightail it over to Ninth Avenue Vintner and grab a crisp white wine to cool me down.

So, other than me, who won and who lost this evening?

Losers:

Whole Foods –> you charge too much for food. Lobster prices are so low that it’s making Canadian fishermen very nervous. Less than $3 / lb to the fisherman simply doesn’t translate to $35.99 / 8 oz to the customer. Please stop insulting us. I’ve walked in and out of Whole Foods 3 times in the past 2 months with my mouth agape at your prices. And I’m a New Yorker — high prices rarely faze me!

Generic urban grocery stores –> your selection is sorely lacking. Even if you had lobster meat, I likely would have needed to visit 2 different stores in my neighborhood to obtain the 10 simple ingredients I needed to make lobster rolls. But you didn’t even have lobster meat, so we didn’t make it that far.

Neutral:

Fresh Direct –> I thought about ordering lobster from you yesterday, but I’m not the type to get a live lobster delivered to my apartment when I’m not around. You should stock lobster meat, fresh or frozen. There has to be enough demand in the 5 boroughs for you to stock this. And Whole Foods is giving you a heck of an opportunity to undercut them on price while still being wildly profitable. In general, I’ve found your selection and pricing to be solid but not spectacular. Turn it up a notch, or you are probably the next Zappos / Diapers.com. Come to think of it, that’s probably not such a bad outcome.

Winners:

Yelp –> Thank you for quickly helping me realize that there is a dearth of good sources of fish in Manhattan. You helped me narrow down my options in the span of 2 minutes. I will also turn to you later this evening to augment my delivery restaurant search, as you’re my Seamless ratings back-up.

Seamless –> Thank you so much for having near universal coverage of delivery restaurants in Manhattan. Thank you for having an easy to use website and mobile apps. Thank your for remembering my payment preferences, my recent orders, my favorite restaurants, my address and pretty much anything that matters about delivery food. You’re getting my business tonight -> thank you!

Amazon –> You didn’t specifically win tonight, but you’re going to win in the long run. I believe you’re going to solve the lobster problem the same way you solved the problem of my local bookstore not having that one book I was dying to read. I await AmazonFresh with open arms. Please bring your grocery goodness to NYC, complete with abundant selection, low prices and timely delivery as soon as possible.

Alas, my lobster roll craving will have to wait until later in the weekend. Luke’s Lobster, here I come!

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