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Nothing says summer quite like lobster and corn on the cob.
So says Adam Eskin, the founder and owner of Dig Inn, a New York City concept that serves up seasonal, farm-to-table fare. This month, Dig Inn collaborated with fellow fast casual Luke’s Lobster to bring lobster to the menu. Now through Labor Day, all 11 stores will serve a Lobster Bake with half a cob of corn, LLT (a lobster version of the BLT), and a Lobster Watermelon Salad served over arugula.
Eskin, who has known Luke and Bryan Holden of Luke’s Lobster for some time, says that the two brands started talking about a menu crossover a year ago. In addition to the seasonal popularity of lobster, Eskin says that the collaboration also made sense given the similar values behind Dig Inn and Luke’s Lobster.
“They’ve philosophically got something similar going on in terms of how they think about supply and direct supply and your relationship with the folks producing the food—in this case, the fishermen up in Maine—so that’s obviously a no brainer. They themselves have a really terrific product,” Eskin says. “It really just makes intuitive sense.”
To further promote the limited-time menu, Dig Inn and Luke’s Lobster are cohosting a “Lobstapalooza” picnic at 6 p.m. tonight in Madison Square Park—just across from a Dig Inn location. The event, which has already sold out, features the lobster specials at Dig Inn, as well as fruit cobbler and Watermelon Spritzer made with local watermelon juice and white wine.
The collaboration with Luke’s Lobster is not the first for Dig Inn. The brand that has made a mark in the limited-service sector by building its own direct supply chain is a unique position to partner with more focused concepts. Last year Dig Inn worked with another New York City neighbor, The Meatball Shop, to create a limited-edition turkey meatball, which was served as part of Dig Inn’s signature Marketplate or in a sandwich.
Eskin says that because his brand does not focus on a specific food or cuisine, it makes more sense for Dig Inn to showcase fare from other restaurants, rather than vice versa.
“One of the main reasons why it works in the direction that it works is because our model from a menu perspective is a bit more broad. We’ve typically said that we’re somewhat cuisine agnostic, but the reality is we’re seasonal American food,” Eskin says. “Our menu offers the flexibility to do these partnerships and to bring in different types of items that can fit it our market-style format.”
Eskin says that other collaborations for the fall and winter months are in the work, although he cannot yet give details. Whether or not Dig Inn is featuring a special LTO with another brand, seasonality ensures that customers see variety on the menu and have something to look forward to as the mercury drops.
“We’ve got some really awesome classics that when we put them back in the menu in that season, people go crazy—like Brussels sprouts!” Eskin says.
By Nicole Duncan