TREMONT — The C.H. Rich lobster wharf at 29 Shore Road in Bass Harbor is under new ownership and management as of last month. New owner Frank Benoit of New Brunswick-based Les Pecheries de Chez Nous Ltee and manager Gus Karush of Hancock were both on hand Sunday for an open house and lunch to meet the lobstermen who sell their catch at Rich’s.
“We had a decent turnout” at the event, Karush said. For most of the 87 years the wharf has been in the lobster-buying business, he said, “upwards of 40 boats” have sold their daily catch here.
“Over the past few years, several have gone elsewhere. I think we had 14 last year. We’re trying to amp up business again, but it may take a few months or a year. A few fishermen who sell to other wharves came to our presentation.”
At the lunch, Karush and Benoit highlighted planned changes at the wharf, including “better availability of fresher bait, some hard bait [such as rawhide, skate, flounder]” and service improvements. “We’ll have more people down on the dock to get boats in and out quickly. I’d like to have a staff of four including myself for the summer,” Karush said.
The wharf shares a parking lot with the Seafood Ketch restaurant. The takeout window at Rich’s will not be operating this year, Karush said.
Benoit’s company already has a few connections in the area. They buy lobster from the Sorrento lobster pound, which will be a first stop for many of the lobsters that make their way into the supply chain from Rich’s.
Other lobster buyers in Bass Harbor include Thurston’s and a handful of larger companies that do business on the town pier.
In 2012, Benoit purchased the former Village Soup newspaper building in the Rockland Industrial park, intending to open a lobster processing facility there. He completed some of the renovations before selling the building to Linda Bean in 2013.