Captain Jack’s Roadside Shack, the popular Easthampton seafood joint, is coming to Chicopee, expanding the reach of its popular slate of lobster rolls, clams and fish tacos.
The new location will be at the city’s Center Space Property, by the corner of Center and South streets, where owner Kevin Sahagian said he wants to create a community hub.
Chicopee leaders said Thursday that Sahagian would be transforming the spot formerly occupied by the Racing Oil gas station, working with the city to add water and electricity, collaborating with muralists to beautify the lot, and adding shade sails and lights overhead.
The Easthampton location will “absolutely” stay open, Sahagian said.
At the new spot, customers can expect food truck festivals, open-air meals, concerts, pop-up shops, art festivals and more, the city said.
A popular roadside spot in Easthampton for seafood, burgers and fries, the Captain Jack’s restaurant was threatened with closure at its Northampton Street location when the River Valley Co-Op bought the property in 2020.
There were no plans then to lease part of the land to Captain Jack’s. Sahagian said that point was one of the worst times in his life.
“I scrapped and saved for years and years to put this together,” he said. “And then essentially to be told you got to go. It’s heartbreaking.”
But the Easthampton community and businesses rallied behind the restaurant, which worked out a deal with the co-op to remain on the property. Sahagian described the swell of support as “the greatest feeling in the world.”
He unveiled the Captain Jack’s food truck near the original restaurant in November, an unusual time for the business to be open.
“The reason we came back, it’s just to keep everybody working,” Sahagian said. “Normally we take the winters off or do catering, but with COVID there is no catering. So, we had to do something.”
It was a difficult time for the restaurant, which faced sharp leaps in the cost of essential items and ingredients.
“The price of lobsters doubled. The price of fryer oil is double, potatoes doubled. Doubled,” Sahagian said. “You do it to be in the community, you don’t ever do it for money, because there’s no goddamn money in this.”
The shack also reopened in its original building for the season in March.
However, since the River Valley Co-op opened, one essential aspect of the restaurant has been missing. The wide-open next-door field previously allowed Captain Jack’s to host local musical artists and other live entertainment.
With the grocery store now filling that space, Sahagian began eyeing Chicopee for an expansion. When the city began accepting proposals for the Center Space Property in December, he saw big things for the site.
“Myself and I know other young chefs and people that are into this kind of thing are looking at Chicopee,” he said. “Chicopee is gonna be the spot.”
“Center Space could not be in better hands,” the city said Thursday. “Thank you Kevin for investing in [Chicopee].”