BETHLEHEM, N.H. — Here's how Monstro the 15-pound lobster didn't wind up on the menu.
The giant lobster caught 100 miles off the Massachusetts coast spent last month in the lobster tank at Angelica's Restaurant in Bethlehem. He recently was returned to the water, just off the southern tip of West Island, five miles from New Bedford, Mass.
Fred Cunha, the restaurant owner, bought the 37-inch Monstro with his 15-inch-long claws from a New Bedford fishing boat in mid-October. Cunha estimates Monstro is 50 years old.
Fifteen-pound lobsters are rare anywhere, but especially in the North Country. Half the customers who weighed in on the subject wanted to eat Monstro; the other half felt sorry for him.
After persistent lobbying from diners and his 7-year-old daughter, Angelica, Cunha decided to raffle off Monstro, with the winner deciding whether to send him to the ocean or the cooking pot.
So Monstro lounged in the restaurant's tank with Mr. Crabby, Angelica's pet 2-pound lobster, feasting on minced crab and scallops. Cunha sold chances at $1 apiece until he reached Monstro's retail price of $150.
"She was really worried," Cunha said of his daughter. "She really wanted him to go free."
Last Friday, Angelica drew the winning ticket. The winner, Claire Lupton of Whitefield, doesn't eat lobster. She said a lobster that big and that old shouldn't end up on a dinner plate.
The Monstro raffle was so successful that Cunha extended it to another lobster, a 9-pounder who'd joined Monstro in the tank a couple of weeks ago. That lobster was set free, too.