A Chicago native, J. Wolf spent a decade on the West Coast where he worked in film production and became a founding partner at The Glendon Bar & Kitchen. He returned to the Windy City and entered the trendy, competitive restaurant niche of lobster rolls when he opened Da Lobsta in Chicago in 2012. Soon he had two locations, one in the pricey Gold Coast neighborhood and a second adjacent to a busy train station. Primarily using the money he borrowed from family members, he saw some early business success before the owner of the primary location sold the property and forced Wolf to close his flagship location.
Still owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to family investors, Wolf used a crowdsourcing campaign through Bolstr to raise enough money to open his first Da Lobsta food truck and another brick-and-mortar location. With all that money he still owed to his family, plus another $100,000 he owed in taxes, Wolf looked to Marcus Lemonis and The Profit to see if he could save his business from being just another failed restaurant attempt.
Da Lobsta on The Profit
The Profit Season 3 Episode 13
Marcus arrives at the Da Lobsta food truck during a bustling lunch hour at a popular food truck lane in Chicago’s Loop. Wolf rakes in about $2,000 in the lunch rush. Marcus tries his hand at making a lobster roll for himself, and thoroughly enjoys the experience and the taste.
When talking about the business, Wolf reveals to Marcus that he likes to enjoy the features of a rich lifestyle. The loans he has received carried Wolf for years and he personally has no money invested in his business. He owns a controlling 52% of the business, with family members owning 25% and another partner owning the remaining 23% of Da Lobsta.
At one of Da Lobsta’s permanent locations, one of the first things Marcus discovers is that the soup at the restaurant is not made on-site, as advertised. His mood does not improve when talk turns to the finances of the business.
In speaking to Wolf about the financial state of his business, Marcus learns that Wolf knows very little of the finances regarding Da Lobsta, nor the fact that it is more than $431,000 in debt. The company is being run quite poorly and there are a lot of risks in getting involved with Wolf and his business. Wolf does not seem any more emotionally invested than he is financially and appears to be using the financials of his business to finance his own social calendar.
Marcus leaves angry. Wolf admitted to wanting to use money Marcus would invest in himself rather than his business. Thinking of the employees and Wolf’s family of investors, Marcus returns the next to see if there is anything he can do to help Wolf and his lobster business. He quickly discovers that Wolf would like to pay his family back, but has no idea how to responsibly run the business and does not seem to want to accept support or advice either.
Marcus actually believes in Da Lobsta and its potential, but will not work with Wolf unless he has control of the decision-making end of the business, especially the financials. He offers Wolf $210,000 in exchange for a controlling 51% interest in the business. One of the locations would have to be sold off to pay for the taxes and Wolf would receive an annual $60,000 salary.
Pride makes Wolf unwilling to release control of the business. Marcus will not budge on wanting 51% of Da Lobsta, he will not make a deal that keeps Wolf in control. Neither is willing to compromise, so Marcus leaves without striking a deal with Wolf. Marcus realizes that there are a lot of people in the business world who deserve help with trying to make their businesses work, but Wolf was not among them. He does not think Da Lobsta can survive much longer with the kind of mismanagement Wolf is providing the business.
Where Is He Now? Da Lobsta After The Profit
Da Lobsta appeared to weather the storm of not being able to strike a deal with Marcus Lemonis and The Profit. The business was thriving with both a food truck and two permanent locations. Wolf had also added a catering business that seemed to be getting some traction. He was getting decent online reviews and had over 16,000 social media followers.
Unfortunately, that success did not appear to have staying power. It is unclear what exactly happened, but all locations of Da Lobsta have been closed, their social media properties were deleted, and while the website is still live, no interior pages are active.
It seems Wolf may have survived for a time after turning down Marcus’ offer for help, but that Wolf was unable to sustain it, or the business, without Marcus and The Profit.
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