Revival planned for Lobster Trap site
PENNSAUKEN The former Lobster Trap restaurant in Cooper River Park is to get a major renovation and a new lease on life.
The Camden County Freeholder Board announced plans Tuesday to spend $1 million for extensive upgrades to spruce up the once-popular eatery, which has been closed since last year.
The county also awarded a contract to restaurateur Kevin Meeker and chef Tony Clark to operate the business, said spokesman Dan Keashen. Meeker owns the Keg & Kitchen in Westmont, and Clark is a chef at the Valley Forge Casino and has cooked for a variety of clients, including former President Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen, Keashen said.
"We're looking at it as a real challenge to set us apart from the other restaurants in New Jersey," Meeker said. "It should be a great venture."
Under the lease, the restaurant operators will pay the county $5,000 a month in addition to a portion of sales, Keashen said.
The county-owned restaurant building opened decades ago as a bike-rental facility. It closed shortly after the death of longtime operator Tom Delimaris last summer.
Delimaris offered a modest menu of fresh seafood at an affordable price. The restaurant is on the river's Pennsauken bank and the outside seating made it a popular attraction in the warm months.
The new eatery, expected to open in time for Labor Day 2015, will seat about 125 people, Keashen said. The menu will probably be much different from the seafood-themed cuisine offered at the Lobster Trap, but will be affordable, Meeker said.
Keashen said the restaurant opening will coincide with the completion of a $23 million face-lift underway to renovate the park and a $5 million dredging project to deepen the river.
"It's going to be an amenity that everybody is going to use," Keashen said. "We think it's going to be one of the best dining opportunities in all of South Jersey." - Melanie Burney