Arizona Is Home To America's First Drive-Thru Lobster Chain

If you had to list places where you would expect to find inexpensive seafood, you'd probably think of areas near the sea. Cities along the Gulf Coast are notorious for shrimp and fish dishes and, of course, New England is known for clam chowder and lobster. Given this knowledge, it might shock you to learn that the first American drive-through restaurant specializing in lobster is not located anywhere along the East Coast, but rather in one of the driest parts of the country: Tempe, Arizona.

Angie's Lobster first opened its door in Tempe in November 2021 as a drive-through-only concept specializing in fried lobster and lobster rolls. Aside from the novelty of fresh lobster in the desert, one of the most noteworthy features of the restaurant is the incredibly low prices, with meal combos costing only $9.99 each, and a la carte sandwiches coming in as low as $8, something the owners explain with savvy management to keep overhead prices down, and its completely drive-through model where customers process their own payments and do their own pickup.

Lobster for all

According to ABC, the owners of Angie's Lobster, Tony and Roushan Christofellis, say they keep prices down by "buying in bulk." While the meat being served through the drive-through is in fact sourced from Maine and eastern Canada, much of it comes from lobster which is "visually unappealing," meaning it may have cracked shells or missing claws, making it cheaper but equally tasty to the lobster available in grocery stores or restaurants. On the Angie's Lobster website, the owners expound upon this idea, noting that they keep their prices down by processing the lobster in their own facility in Maine, limiting staff, and keeping their restaurants as streamlined as possible with no money spent on marketing or branding.

Since opening the first location, Angie's Lobster — named for Tony's mother Angie who immigrated from Greece to the Boston area — has expanded rapidly and now includes five locations in Mesa, Glendale, Phoenix, and Surprise, Arizona along with the original Tempe store. Two more Arizona locations are slated to open in the coming months. All serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the breakfast options including more standard egg and sausage sandwiches type fare, and coffee, of course. The lunch and dinner menus focus on fried lobster tails and lobster rolls served with French fries.

Angie's says it was to pass on the love it is showed every day by customers and make good food readily available. "Lobster is no longer for the few, it's for everyone. Not just for the rich, but now for the immigrant single mother of two!"