CAPE ELIZABETH — Longtime lobster-roll food truck Bite into Maine will be joined this summer in Fort Williams Park by Cousins Maine Lobster, owned by a pair of Maine natives who now have a fleet of food trucks in every corner of the country.

The Town Council has approved the addition of a 90-square-foot vendor site on the north side of Capt. Strout Circle next to the Portland Head Light, to be filled by the Los Angeles-based franchise food-truck business run by cousins Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis.

Tselikis said the plan is to have the truck in the park by late spring. It will be run by Tselikis’ childhood friend, Mike Carmody, who also runs a Cousins Maine Lobster truck that opened last spring in Portland. The Portland truck was the company’s first in Maine.

“We did that because we wanted to be at home in Maine,” Tselikis said.

Public Works Director Bob Malley said the lease site was previously a 50-square-foot site on the south side of the circle, but was moved to accommodate Cousins Maine Lobster, which Town Manager Matt Sturgis said was the only company to submit a bid for the location.

Lomac, from Scarborough, and Tselikis, from Cape Elizabeth, started with a single food truck in Los Angeles in April 2012. Business took off after an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and a $55,000 investment from New York real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran.

The business now includes 20 franchises nationwide, with plans for Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; northern New Jersey, and Pittsburgh. There are restaurants in West Hollywood, California, and Taiwan, with plans for at least five more in the U.S.

Fort Williams Park has been in their sights for more than a year, Tselikis said. The town-owned seaside park attracts as many as 1 million visitors a year.

“Knowing the fort very well, we thought it would be a phenomenal complement to our business,” he said.

Their truck will sit next to the site occupied by Gorgeous Gelato.

Bite into Maine owners Sarah and Karl Sutton have had their truck at the park every summer since 2011, stationed on 90 square feet at lease site at Channel Overlook, between the park entrance and the Head Light.

Karl Sutton, who runs the Bite Into Maine food truck with his wife, Sarah, serves two lobster rolls to a customer at Fort Williams Park. Bite into Maine has been doing business at the park every summer since 2011. Staff photo by Gordon Chibroski

Along with a station at Allagash Brewing Co. in Portland, Sarah Sutton said the truck at Fort Williams Park is the “bread and butter” of their business.

“Fort Williams Park is our livelihood,” she added. “It always has been.”

Over the past seven years, Sutton said, other vendors have come in and out of the park, some offering their own lobster rolls and cakes, but this will be the first time a national franchise will be in the park selling lobster.

While Sutton said she doesn’t think of Cape Elizabeth as a place for franchises and wishes more potential vendors would have bid on the site to provide a wider variety of cuisine, she also said she doesn’t look at the addition of another lobster vendor as competition.

“We want more food in the park,” she said. “… We’ve been doing it longer and we’re proud of what we do.”

Last December, the Fort Williams Park Committee recommended some lease sites be reduced from 90 square feet to 50 to attract smaller vendors. However, after reviewing Cousins Maine Lobster’s bid, Malley said it was clear that the vending truck would be too big for the 50 square-foot site at the south side of the circle.

Bidders must offer at least $2,000 for a 50-square-foot site and $4,000 for a 90-square-foot site. Cousins Maine bid $8,000, Gorgeous Gelato bid $5,750, and Bite into Maine, $5,500.

Tselikis said he hopes to have the Cousins Maine truck open for business sometime between May and June.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said. “We’re down-to-earth Maine guys who aren’t looking to ruffle any feathers by any means. … The more the merrier. The more trucks, the more people will turn up for food.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

 

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