In Tim Brown's experience, ordering enough lobster to feed hundreds of hungry guests without a firm head count is no easy feat.
Brown, chairman of Newport Beach's Lobsterfest, placed an order by phone Tuesday for 1,350 pounds of lobsters — each weighing 1.25 to 1.50 pounds — but was still tallying ticket sales for Saturday's seventh annual meal at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina. The event is a fundraiser for several area charities.
"It's a tricky deal," he said. "We have a six-year history now on sales, so we base our order on that sales history and hope we are right. So far, we have been pretty good with our calculations."
Brown has selected a correct number of crustaceans five out of six times. Last year, when a group arrived late in the afternoon, organizers realized they were about 10 lobsters short and had to refund the guests' tickets.
The pace of ticket sales for Saturday is ahead of last year's, Brown said.
"Hopefully we won't have the same problem this year," he said.
The live lobsters will touch down at the airport early Saturday after a flight from Maine, just in time for the event, which runs from 3 to 8 p.m.
The lobsters will be thrown into a large metal pot, boiled, shelled, slathered in butter and savored by guests looking to get fresh East Coast grub without leaving Orange County.
"The lobster that people are eating was in the Atlantic Ocean the day before," Brown said.
Grilled steak, rolls, salads, red potatoes, corn on the cob and desserts also will be on the menu.
Brown helped form Lobsterfest with Costa Mesa Rotary while he was president-elect of the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club in 2009.
Since it was his responsibility to organize a fundraiser, Brown said he looked to cities such as Yorba Linda and Redondo Beach, both of which have successful lobster festivals to raise money for community charities.
Lobsterfest, while successful, proved to be a lot of work and, in 2010, responsibility for it transitioned solely to Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary, then to Bacchus International in 2011 and Leadership Tomorrow in 2012, according to the event's website. In 2013, Lobsterfest created its own nonprofit foundation.
Brown previously was chairman of Leadership Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that provides programs to educate the public about and help them become more involved in civic leadership roles and activities.
During his time with Leadership Tomorrow, he saw people who couldn't afford to pay to be involved with the organization, which prompted him to dedicate some of the money raised through Lobsterfest to fund scholarships.
"The folks who showed up and wanted to have the experience of being involved in Leadership Tomorrow that worked for nonprofits were being locked out because they couldn't afford it," Brown said. "I thought [Lobsterfest] might be a way to address the problem."
Last year, more than 620 guests feasted on 1,300 pounds of lobster, raising about $25,000 for charities including Leadership Tomorrow, Make-A-Wish of Orange County and the Inland Empire, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and New Directions for Women, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Costa Mesa.
IF YOU GO
When: 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, 101 N. Bayside Drive, Newport Beach
Cost: $60 for general admission, which includes one Maine lobster; $150 for VIP admission, which includes all-you-can-eat lobster
Tickets and information: lobsterfestatnewportbeach.com