At lunchtime, the staff at Costello's Clam Shack, in the Noank part of Groton, expects to fry up a lot of clam strips this summer.
But a strip shortage has owner Deirdre Mears a bit clammy.
"The name of the restaurant is Costello's Clam Shack. It's kind of embarrassing if you don't have a clam,” she said.
The shack had one Sunday this summer when they ran out of clam strips for four hours.
"It would've been better if we said we ordered wrong, we just screwed up. But no… it's a supply issue,” Mears said.
Some seafood shacks said it's been challenging to get clam strips this summer.
And the thought of a shortage has customers in a frenzy.
"If I came someplace and I wanted a particular thing, and it's right on the seashore, I would be shocked,” said Pam Zbierski, of Mystic, who was eating a dish with clam strips at Costello’s.
Atlantic Capes Fisheries sells to major northeast seafood distributors. The vice president of sales, Jim Mullin, said at one point, three of the company’s six clam boats were down.
Two of the clam boats were out because of mechanical issues. Combine that with storms and bad weather, which prevents other boats from getting out on the water, and that results with a supply shortage.
Mullin told NBC Connecticut that all six boats should be back on the water this week. The company said it is working on introducing a seventh boat to the fleet.
“It's very tough when you have a product that people love and are coming just for it, send them away without what they came for,” said Ryan Devlin-Perry, operations manager at Sea Swirl in Mystic.
Delvin-Perry has had a couple of days without clam strips. The company posted on Instagram and wrote, in part, “Because we won’t serve you frozen clam strips that came from who-knows-where, there may be days when we don’t have clam strips available on our menu.”
Distributors are also feeling the clam strip shortage. James Lampropoulos, the key account manager for Ipswich Maritime in Massachusetts, said at this point they're only able supply to the top 25 of their 1,200 businesses. That includes Costello’s.
Lampropoulos said it's not that they don't want to provide everyone with clam strips, it’s just not possible to fill all of the orders. Many businesses are looking to multiple distributors for a clam strip supply, he added. And the area where some fisheries go, there are not as many clams.