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Lawrence Woodman

Lawrence Woodman

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Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman was an entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to...

 and restaurant
Restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

 owner who legend has it invented the Ipswich fried clam
Fried clams
Fried clams are made by deep frying soft-shell clams that have been dipped in batter.Fried clams are an iconic food, "to New England what barbecue is to the South". They tend to be served at seaside clam shacks . For a lighter meal, a clam roll is made by piling clams into a hot dog bun...

. He opened Woodman's of Essex
Woodman's of Essex
Woodman’s of Essex is a seafood restaurant in Essex, Massachusetts . A local favorite, it is also known internationally for its fried clams and New England clam bakes...

, first as a clam shack, with his wife Bessie on Main Street in Essex, Massachusetts and sold freshly dug steamer clams as well as ice cream and homemade potato chips.

Legend has it that Woodman invented fried clams
Fried clams
Fried clams are made by deep frying soft-shell clams that have been dipped in batter.Fried clams are an iconic food, "to New England what barbecue is to the South". They tend to be served at seaside clam shacks . For a lighter meal, a clam roll is made by piling clams into a hot dog bun...

 on July 3, 1916. According to the company website this happened during a visit from a friend and fisherman, Mr. Tarr of neighboring Gloucester
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Gloucester is a city on Cape Ann in Essex County, Massachusetts, in the United States. It is part of Massachusetts' North Shore. The population was 28,789 at the 2010 U.S. Census...

. Chubby took his suggestion to put some clams into the oil used for deep-frying the potato chips. Some modifications were made, such as dipping the clams in evaporated milk and corn flour, and the fried clam was born.

Chubby Woodman's clam related innovations continued with the idea of mobilizing New England clam bake
New England clam bake
The New England clam bake is a traditional method of cooking foods, especially seafood such as lobster, mussels, crabs, steamers, and quahogs. The seafood is often supplemented by sausages, potatoes, onions, carrots, corn on the cob, etc...

. He used a truck loaded with food, boilers, and wood, and the clambake was done at the customer's preferred location. Woodman's restaurant now sells "clambakes to go," consisting of all the necessary ingredients such as lobster
Lobster
Clawed lobsters comprise a family of large marine crustaceans. Highly prized as seafood, lobsters are economically important, and are often one of the most profitable commodities in coastal areas they populate.Though several groups of crustaceans are known as lobsters, the clawed lobsters are most...

, clams, potatoes, and corn.

Woody's legacy and his restaurant's focus on clams was adversely impacted in 2005 by a severe red tide
Red tide
Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon also known as an algal bloom , an event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column and results in discoloration of the surface water. It is usually found in coastal areas...

 tightening the clam supplies and causing price increases. Woodman's was forced to import clams from Canada.

Family and legacy


Eventually, the family business came into the hands of Chubby’s son, Lawrence Dexter Woodman, commonly referred to as "Deck," and his wife Virginia. After his death in 1987, Deck’s children and grandchildren founded the L. Dexter Woodman Scholarship Fund. The scholarship provides scholarships of $20,000 to two local high school seniors to help them toward college; applicants are judged on character and community service, as well as on academics, extracurricular activities, and need. The scholarship fund hosts two main fundraising events each May, the "Taste of Essex," a tasting event with local food, and "Deck’s Day for Dubbers," a golf tournament.

Reputation


Woodman's reputation is recognized in many travel and restaurant guides, such as Frommer's
Frommer's
Frommer's is a travel guidebook series and one of the bestselling travel guides in America. The series began in 1957 with the publication of Arthur Frommer's book, Europe on $5 a Day. Frommer's has expanded to include over 350 guidebooks across 14 series, as well as other media including the award...

 New England, Frommer's Boston 2006 and Boston 2007, and their Irreverent Guide to Boston. Fodor
Fodor's
Fodor's is the world's largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information, and the first relatively professional producer of travel guidebooks...

included the restaurant in their Where to Weekend Around Boston, and the Phantom Gourmet Guide to Boston's Best Restaurants 2008 affirms it has the best fried clams.