Pepper’s Landing opened up a new location in Old Town in May 2022. It is notable for its welcoming atmosphere, fresh seafood dishes and theming around Old Town legend Pepper Martin.
The restaurant chain got its start in May 2019 in Brunswick, Maine. A third restaurant is also located in Rochester, New Hampshire, as a way to give out-of-state guests a taste of the culture.
Morey Higbarger, owner of Pepper’s Landing, has been in the food service business for over 20 years with the goal of promoting Maine lobster recipes to a wider audience. He was originally going to name the restaurant after his wholesale company, Sea Salt Lobster, but wasn’t able to use the name due to trademark interference. Higbarger and his company then had a clever idea to name the restaurant after his grandfather Pepper Martin.
Ralph “Pepper” Martin was born on French Island in Old Town as one of nine children. He was given the nickname for his notable athletics accomplishments such as becoming a local champion boxer as well as playing a key role in organizing the first water ski tournaments in Maine. The area was eventually given the nickname “Pepper’s Landing” due to his heavy involvement. At the center of it all, Pepper was known by friends and family for his humble, outgoing attitude with a love for seafood and crafted brew.
In his day, Pepper had also converted a car garage into a popular hangout space where he carved canoe paddles, smoked fish and served brews for members of the Old Town community. Higbarger and his team wanted to recapture that feeling of community when developing the restaurant.
“It was a place for people to congregate and kind of enjoy family and friends and hang out and we kind of wanted to bring that same feel into our restaurant. Make it a place that felt like it was for local people, not just a tourist thing for seafood, and serve really well made local ingredients, and make it a comfortable atmosphere,” Higbarger said.
The menu selection prides itself on serving various seafood options that are both local to Maine and fresh as possible. Pepper’s Landing receives its lobster directly from harvesters such as Cozy Harbor in Portland, GreenHead Lobster in Stonington and other independent harvesters from the state of Maine. When it comes to lobster cuisines, the menu offers steamed lobster, lobster rolls and more. Pepper’s Landing also offers a variety of other popular seafood dishes as well as non-seafood sandwiches.
“Our top sellers are surprisingly haddock-driven. Lobsters are right up there too, but our haddock tacos, our baked stuffed haddock, haddock sandwiches are right up near the top. Some of my favorites are the lobster mac and cheese with smoked gouda, and it’s phenomenal,” Higbarger said.
The bar at Pepper’s Landing offers a variety of alcoholic beverages, but the most coveted of all is the crisp, cold lager known as Pepper’s Champ. Up until recently, Pepper has only ever shared the mysterious formula with one other family member. Pepper’s Landing now offers its guests one of the finest champagne recipes in the state of Maine.
Pepper’s Landing is also host to many events that occur throughout the week, known as “daily deals.” Such offerings include Dollar Oyster Night on Wednesdays at 5 to 8 p.m. where local Maine oysters are offered to guests for a third of the regular price. Every Thursday, children 12 and under can eat for free when selecting from the kids menu. Weekday events such as these allow for repeated guest visits to experience the variety of dining options.
The official Pepper’s Landing website allows guests the flexibility of ordering online for pickup so that they can enjoy seafood dishes and other weekly specials in the comfort of their own home. The website also allows guests to join the Pepper’s Landing loyalty program, where they can accumulate points over time which can be used for discounts on meals and much more.
“I love Maine seafood. I love being from Maine and promoting Maine, but when you tie that into being connected to my family and their legacy, then that really brings me the most joy,” Higbarger said.
Above all, Pepper’s Landing offers many options for guests to enjoy fresh seafood cuisine from the heart of Old Town, while also paying tribute to the legend of Pepper Martin and his lifelong contributions to the townsfolk he’s impacted.