The “Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs” list serves to elevate awareness of the innovation, professionalism, competence and tenacity demonstrated by Native entrepreneurs across Indian Country. Native Business is rolling out profiles of these 50 Native entrepreneurs online, in no particular hierarchy, to document and memorialize their innovation and self-determination. The inaugural class of the Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs recognizes leaders across 13 business sectors, demonstrating the diversity of industries where Natives are making an impact. Among the entrepreneurs recognized in our Food sector is Lance Gumbs.
Over the course of his entrepreneurial career, Lance Gumbs has succeeded as a club venue operator and DJ, as well as a proprietor of a gift shop, smoke shop, delicatessen and café. He recently added co-owner of the Shinnecock Lobster Factory in the Hamptons to that list.
Gumbs’ first foray into business was a youth club. While still attending prep school, Gumbs gutted a home — a gift inherited from an elder — and turned it into a teen club. “I didn’t understand entrepreneurship,” he says, “but I made a ton of money!”
Each Friday and Saturday night, Gumbs would open the club and spin tunes. That’s how he started out as a DJ.
While a freshman in college, he opened an outpost to sell Native jewelry, clothing and other indigenous-made accessories. Although situated across the street from the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, he struggled to turn a profit. Good fortune came knocking in the form of a Mohawk man, driving a van, who asked Gumbs, ‘Are you interested in selling cigarettes?’ The man offered Gumbs $10,000 worth of inventory in consignment. “I made $2,800 my first day,” he says, “and the third day, I ran out of stock.” The rest is history.
When it came time to diversify, Gumbs opened a deli and café at his Shinnecock Indian Outpost.
Most recently, Gumbs added a lobster roll concession to his portfolio. Lance Gumbs’ lobster roll joint, located on the reservation, on the East End of Long Island, opened for business Memorial Weekend 2017.
The Shinnecock Lobster Factory serves up variations of the Hampton’s quintessential lobster roll — from the BLT to the Cajun to the Shinnecock. The menu also boasts bisques, seafood sides, sea burgers (think crabcakes and yellow fin tuna) and more.
He and business partner Chef Marco Barrila are so busy, they can barely keep the lobster in the pot. “During the U.S. Open, we sold 5,000 pounds of lobster,” Gumbs says.