As I escaped New England’s last wintry blizzard this past week to my metro Philadelphia college campus, I found more than a handful of people I encountered commenting on what I was wearing. I had on my white long sleeve Woodman’s t-shirt. On this short appears a navy blue clam on the front with the name Woodman’s of Essex and on the back “Best Seafood in America” label from Forbes. I had perhaps a dozen people comment on the shirt. Half of them were from the mid-Atlantic area intrigued by the bold declaration on the back of the shirt, or the interest in the famous New England seafood culture. In fact, I had a nice conversation with someone who worked at a New York fish restaurant and we compared our lives as fish restaurant summer laborers. The other half was members of New England who shared their fondest memories with me of their trips to Woodman’s of Essex. A couple of people shared with me how they own summer homes near Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA, Crane’s Beach in Ipswich, MA and Long Beach in Rockport, MA. All of them were excited to tell me about how they love spending summer on the North Shore, and Woodman’s of Essex is definitely part of that experience.
People’s excitement and recognition got me thinking of the entire Woodman’s logos and what they mean to everyone individually. Whether it is the navy blue W, the clam, a bright red lobster, the clammer silhouette, or the candid Geoffrey Woodman photo handling two lobsters, everyone resonates with one of them and in turn recalls some really exciting memories. Just last week my grandmother explained to me the Gershwin painting of Woodman’s amidst a 4th of July parade and how it makes her connect her own Woodman’s experiences with the sentiment of patriotism that her favorite holiday emits every year.
This idea of personal experience interpretation truly embodies the dynamic culture of Woodman’s of Essex. Having so many exceptional options and services, the brand Woodman’s of Essex means so many different things to different people. Someone who loves Woodman’s flaky and light fish may refer to Woodman’s as a Fish shack or Fish restaurant. Other people recognize Woodman’s as the inventor of the fried clam and the perennial clam shack. Other people may remember pulling into Woodman’s and first seeing mounds of steaming fresh lobster; that signature smell and that exciting service of it out front always dubs Woodman’s an expert of lobsters. Furthermore, people love Woodman’s for the great tartar sauce or scallops that leaves people calling Woodman’s the best seafood restaurant around. For some locals, they love live music and cold drinks at the top deck, and, if their feeling adventurous, try out some oysters and raw clams, one of the few raw bars on all of the North Shore. In any case, Woodman’s ultimately is one of the greatest experiences of the North Shore, and really all of New England.
For me, Woodman’s of Essex transcends just the food it serves. Don’t get me wrong, perhaps my favorite things to eat in the world is the Woodman’s of Essex lobster roll; in my personal opinion no one does it better, no lettuce nonsense, rather just huge chunks of lobster and light mayo with a touch of secret ingredients. Actually, if I may revoke that I might prefer a clam plate; perfectly sweet and crisp fried clams with ever-delicious onion rings complemented greatly by the homemade tartar sauce Woodman’s provides. On the other hand, I may prefer the fish sandwich; the lightest white fish seems to melt in your mouth. I suppose it is just too hard to pick your favorite menu option at Woodman’s and at this point all I have accomplished is making myself hungry and salivating in front of the computer screen. What I originally planned to argue at the beginning of the paragraph was that, everything combined; Woodman’s of Essex is a total experience of great food and great people, a must-do come summer time.