LAKEVIEW — It's hard to miss Larry.
Larry the Lobster towers over all the other lobsters in the tank at New England Seafood Company Fish Market, 3341 N. Lincoln Ave., where the male crustacean has become a bit of a mascot.
His claws, bound by blue rubber bands, rival the size of an infant's head. Children edge away when he's taken out. Adults, wide-eyed, usually ask the same question when they see him: "How big is he?"
The answer: Eight whopping pounds. Measuring from his claws to his tails, Larry is two feet and two inches — far more than the one-pounders typically available in the tank, said Jeffrey Mazza, the restaurant's owner.
"He's the king of the castle," Mazza said. "Kind of like, 'Anybody that does come in, I don't care what you think. This is my place'."
When the restaurant got Larry from a Boston vendor in August, Mazza knew the crustacean was destined for mascot-status.
People tend to gravitate toward the lobster tank at the back of the shop as they wait for food anyway, and Larry's "monstrous" size immediately draws attention, said Kyle Chzsanowski, an employee since the store and restaurant opened in September 2011.
Plus, most people tend to buy off the smaller lobsters due to the belief that the meat tastes better, though Mazza thinks that is a myth. Larry was bound to have some staying power.
The crew named him after the lobster that's illustrated on the restaurant's chalkboard, who was the cartoon-version of a mascot.
They sometimes lift him out of the tank — with both hands, of course — to let fascinated diners get a closer look. One time, onlookers got a wet surprise. Larry's tail flapped out as Mazza lifted him out of the water, splashing everybody who was waiting to see him.
"Everybody standing in front of the tank got soaked," Mazza said.
It's unclear how old Larry is, but it takes seven years for a lobster to grow to be one pound, Chzsanowski said. The subsequent pounds usually don't take as long, so Larry could be 15 years old, he added.
The biggest lobster ever reportedly reached more than 44 pounds and was found in 1977 in Canada, but one pounders generally drive the dining industry.
In that sense, Larry's old — and big — for a lobster.
Mazza is surprised that Larry's still alive at all, he said. The restaurant outfits the tank with a device that releases nutrients and bacteria for the lobsters to eat, but other than that, Larry gets no special treatment.
Mazza predicts Larry's domination of his weaker tank mates for dinner has kept the king lobster alive.
"One lobster, he had no legs. Half of his tail was gone," Mazza said. "You just knew Larry was over there."
Despite his status, Larry is in fact for sale. At $12 a pound, a lobster lover can take Larry home to boil in a big pot for $96. A few people have asked about buying him, but no one's bitten yet, Chzanowski said.
Mazza has no plan to cook him, either. Unless they literally run out of all other lobster — which shouldn't happen — Larry the Lobster will remain the "king of the castle" until death, Mazza said.
"He's turning into our mascot," he said. "It's hard to cook him."