Woodman's of Essex is famous for fried seafood; steamed lobsters; and all things clam, from cakes to chowder. Situated on a piece of inland marsh on the North Shore of Massachusetts, the area offers up all the elements of an ideal coastal setting: rocky shorelines, tangerine sunsets, and sweet salt air. On any given weekend at Woodman's, a line of customers waiting to place their orders—most of them still sandy from the beach—stretches 50 long out the door, and the hunger in the air is as palpable as the fog of fried seafood that hangs over the place.
Inside, a view into the open kitchen reveals a crew of at least 20 seemingly high school–aged kids frantically working 10 deep-fryers and ladling out cupfuls of clam chowder for hungry customers. It's hard to believe that it all started with a desire to sell fresh clams.