NEWPORT BEACH, CA -- The California Lobster Zone reports that a vocal vegan group is targeting its skill crane game and its restaurant and sports bar customers with a barrage of emails, onsite protests and threats of fines or even prison under state law.
The company explained that groups such as Concerned Citizens for Crustaceans, Orange County People for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others are making use of activist websites and social networks to disseminate unsubstantiated allegations, mobilizing sympathizers to intimidate these small businesses with claims that lobsters are being "tormented," "abused," and "subjected to needless suffering."
Noted law firm Rutan & Tucker (Costa Mesa, CA), in a letter responding to these threats, concluded: "Contrary to the letter from Concerned Citizens, it is the opinion of this firm that the Lobster Zone machine does not violate the provisions cited by them."
In response to recent local attacks, California Lobster Zone president Gregg Schaeberle commented, "We run a legal vending business that is very popular with many patrons. I respect the opinions of these groups, but they are misinformed about the game and the tank environment we are providing. It is clean, temperature controlled and maintained twice a week by our technicians."
To keep the lobsters healthy prior to being caught and prepared, the Lobster Zone machines (made in Florida) are fitted with plastic "claws" actuated by compressed air, so the animals are not exposed to electricity, hard surfaces or harsh treatment. "For $2.00 a play, customers can catch their lobster dinner, cooked right on the spot," Schaeberle said. "It's a game of chance plus skill that really is a lot of fun."
There are now more than 500 Lobster Zone games placed in locations throughout the U.S. Schaeberle owns the California distribution rights. While he doesn't manufacture the machines, he said that he knows them inside and out, and they are diligently maintained to strict standards.
The California Lobster Zone is not alone in its run-ins with activist groups. Denver Post reporter Al Lewis wrote in another recent Lobster Zone protest story, "I found eight lobsters, peacefully spread out in as pristine a tank as I'd seen anywhere ... I, for one, do not see the difference between grabbing a lobster with a mechanical claw, a pair of tongs, or prodding it with a rake or a stick until you can grab it with your hands."
In southern California, over the course of several months, threatening letters and protests have continued in an attempt to affect the business of not only the California Lobster Zone, but of the participating restaurants, as well. Protesters insist they will not give up until the games are removed from the locations.
Schaeberle is sure that the protests against his business are part of a larger agenda. "PETA's website lobsterlib.com argues that there's no humane way to kill lobsters, so we really shouldn't eat them at all," he pointed out. "Basically, they want us all to be vegans or vegetarians. This is just the tip of the iceberg ... It's not really our games they dislike, but everything that goes against their activist agenda and their way of thinking.
"At one of my locations, the owner told me that he intended to cater to his customers, not some outside group using small business to further their extremist causes. These people are not our customers and we have a right to continue to grow our business and not give in to these tactics."
Information about The California Lobster Zone may be had by calling Schaeberle at (949) 873-2277 or visiting the company's website, lobsterzoneca.com.