Best Wishes to the Hook Family
If you've attended the International Boston Seafood Show over the past four years, chances are you've passed by James Hook & Co. and thought, "They don't make 'em like that anymore." The family-run lobster business on Northern Avenue, about a stone's throw from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, was a true landmark - a time capsule of sorts that characterized not only the gritty, blue-collar working Boston waterfront, but the seemingly bygone traditions of its proud seafood industry.
Sadly, when Ed Hook II, one of the company owners, crossed the Zakim Bridge on his way to work Friday morning, he found his throwback facility reduced to a column of smoke rising above the city skyline, an estimated $5 million in damage. His brother, Jimmy, had called him with the shocking news at about 4 a.m., shortly after the fire began.
"I knew there was trouble, but when I got here it was pretty devastating," Hook told the Boston Globe as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze that snarled traffic during the busy morning commute. "I'm in a fog."
James Hook & Co. was established in 1925, when the Hook family started distributing Maine and Canadian lobsters to upscale restaurants around Beantown. The company evolved into a reputable wholesaler and popular retail store, where shoppers could pick up live lobsters for dinner or grab a quick lobster roll for lunch. The modest building stood in close proximity to the bustling financial district, luxury hotels and the enigmatic Big Dig project.
Before fire engulfed the wooden structure that sat atop a Fort Point Channel pier, Hook was shipping 3 million pounds of lobsters annually (according to news reports, 60,000 pounds of lobsters were destroyed in the fire). Thankfully, nobody was injured in the seven-alarm fire, the cause of which is under investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Hook family vows to rebuild. Whether the rebirth happens in the same spot, a valuable piece of real estate in a growing city, remains to be seen. Either way, we wish them the best of luck. Boston will miss them.