Salty’s Lobster Co

One taste of the lobster rolls from Salty’s Lobster & Co. and, “you’ll swear you’re in Maine,” says Jonathan Kelly, whose popular seafood trucks and shacks bring the authentic taste of New England to Roanoke—with plans to expand around Virginia. 

Kelly gets the freshest and best from the lobstermen of Massachusetts and Maine, many he counts as friends. The path to lobster stardom began in San Diego when, in 2020, Kelly’s Asian fusion restaurant was shuttered.

Photo courtesy of Salty’s Lobster Co.

In a path as twisted as the Crooked Road, Kelly headed for his hometown of Roanoke, planning how he would make his mark on the Valley’s culinary scene. He knew the lobster industry was in peril; with cruise ships and restaurants on lockdown, the livelihoods of the lobstermen hung in the balance, too. In a show of solidarity, he drove north, visiting the wharves dotting the New England coast. At stops along the way, he’d join local lobstermen grilling their catch on the docks.

“It was a wonderful experience during a huge time of uncertainty,” Kelly says. The tour inspired him to introduce Virginians to a New England staple: the lobster shack. Beyond lobster rolls, Saltys makes a decadent sandwich with clams, shrimp, or crab.

“Being a lobster shack in Virginia, we want to be traditional, yet offer other options,” Kelly says. A hearty, ready-made seafood boil will feed a crowd. Dip your lobster in truffle butter, bayou butter, lemon butter, or ghee, a clarified South Asian butter. With Saltys’ statewide expansion—to Richmond and Lynchburg—Kelly says he loves the foodie vibe of Virginia. “We also want to be close to D.C., the 757, and Richmond proper,” he says. SaltysLobsterCo.com

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