Don’s Lunch Van was selling burgers out of a kitchen on wheels long before food trucks were trendy.

Now $25,000 could buy the beige GMC van that’s become a piece of Westbrook history and has a place in a growing sector of the restaurant industry.

The business, which became known for its double cheeseburgers and loyal customers during the nearly 40 years it was parked on Westbrook’s Main Street, is up for sale.

The vintage van equipped with a kitchen is the third vehicle to house the burger joint.

Unlike the mobile gourmet food trucks that have become popular in recent years, Don’s Lunch has always stayed put. It moved only once, from one end of Main Street to the other in 2001, when it was purchased by Bill and Nancy Bombard.

The Bombards, who sold the business for medical reasons, reacquired Don’s Lunch last month after it was shut down by the state because of the most recent owner’s nonpayment of sales taxes.

Jim Richards, the son of the original owners, had used owner financing to buy the business from the Bombards in 2012. He owed $4,400 to Maine Revenue Services, said his son, Justin Richards.

The van was moved Sunday from a parking lot at 517 Main St. into storage because the property owner has a tenant interested in moving into a building on the lot and no longer wants Don’s Lunch there, Nancy Bombard said.

City records list the property owner as Direnzo Rentals LLC of 56 Rochester St., Westbrook. No one responded to a message left there Monday.

Bombard said she and her husband have heard from about a dozen people interested in buying the business, posted for sale Friday on Craigslist.

Among the prospective owners is a man who would like to reopen it in another location in downtown Westbrook, and a restaurant owner interested in bringing it to Portland.

She believes it will be sold within a week.

Although ice cream and taco trucks have been around for a while, a new type of food truck emerged during the recession, has surged in popularity and now makes up a nearly $1 billion industry nationwide. An option for laid-off chefs or businesspeople bored with their profession, starting a food truck is the subject of a reality show on the Food Network and the 2014 movie “Chef” starring Jon Favreau.

When the first gourmet food truck tried to start operating in Portland in 2011, the city moved to create regulations for the new class of eatery. Since 2012, they’ve been allowed to operate in the city, where there are now 19 licensed food trucks.

Ross Resnick, chief executive officer of Roaming Hunger, which books food trucks for events throughout the country, said the asking price for Don’s Lunch is modest compared with trucks listed for sale on his business website. He said the median price is around $50,000, although it varies depending on the truck’s features.

Bombard said the van isn’t currently drivable, but could be with some work.

“The fixed location model definitely works in many places, but if you have the wheels it’s nice to be able to use them,” Resnick said.

He said the new owner will have the benefit of being able to use the Don’s Lunch recognizable name and count on an established customer base. “My advice to anyone who’s taking it on, take advantage of that,” he said.

Bombard said the business brought in about $250,000 in revenue annually.

Don’s Lunch was originally opened in 1976 by Don and Yvonne Richards, who bought a box truck from the owner of Rapid Ray’s in Saco when he upgraded his mobile burger joint to a newer vehicle. They modeled the business after Rapid Ray’s, including calling their double cheeseburger the Big One.

Don’s stayed open until 2 a.m. on weekends and was popular with everyone from police officers to the post-bar crowd. The devoted followers lamented the business’s closure on its Facebook page last month and called for a speedy return, some even trying to raise money to help pay the back taxes.

Janet Snow of Windham, who used to stop for a cheeseburger with fried onions and red relish every time she passed through Westbrook, said she’s been eating at home a lot more in the past month and would be delighted to see the lunch van reopen in the area, on one condition.

“I think it would be wonderful if it stays the same way,” she said.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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