The first mobile food court in Biddeford could open as soon as this summer now that city officials have addressed zoning and access issues that could have halted the project.

The idea for The Lot, which would feature a rotating lineup of four or five food trucks and carts on a vacant lot downtown, was first introduced nearly a year ago.

Last week, the City Council approved an easement needed to allow access to the lot at 64 Alfred St., which is only accessible through two city-owned parking spaces along the rear of the property. The council previously approved adding language to the city ordinance to allow mobile food courts in the downtown and mill districts.

Steve Liautaud, who worked in the restaurant industry for 30 years before moving to Maine, first approached the city last spring about his idea to transform the lot downtown, which has been vacant since the building that had been there was destroyed by fire in 2006. He sees the location, which is passed by people driving toward Main Street on Alfred Street, as the gateway to downtown Biddeford.

He says it is the perfect spot to create an upscale outdoor venue that will tap into local enthusiasm for food trucks and bring more people downtown.

The mobile food court would be a first for Biddeford and reflect the growing regional popularity of food trucks. The Congdon’s After Dark food truck park, which opened in 2017, attracts thousands of visitors to Wells each summer.


The Lot’s food court will situate the changing roster of food trucks and carts around a central dining area covered by a canopy. Liautaud is looking for an operator to sell beer, wine and food from a small building that he plans to build there.

Food truck operators will set up each day in a pod that will provide them with power, water, gray water and an oil dump. To meet Biddeford’s parking requirements for restaurants, food court employees will park in spaces Liautaud has secured at Paul’s Variety.

Before Liautaud could move forward with the project, the city had to deal with both the access issue and outdated ordinances. City officials were supportive of his concept, but the zoning ordinance did not provide any guidance about how to regulate a mobile food court. The council’s first step was to add language to the city ordinances to allow food trucks to operate downtown.

Discussions about the project soon made it clear that the city’s zoning ordinances needed to be updated further to make more sense and reflect what’s going on in the food truck industry, according to city officials. The city’s regulations for food trucks and carts were written for a different era, when mobile canteen trucks pulled up outside of the mills to feed workers, and had been tweaked in recent years for ice cream trucks that move throughout the city. More updates are likely as Biddeford does a more thorough zoning ordinance rewrite.

After The Lot’s design was approved, the city still had to address how to get food trucks access to the lot. It was not feasible, city officials said, to do so with curb cuts at the intersection of Alfred and Pool streets.

The easement drafted by the city attorney and approved by the council grants access through two of the parking spaces currently marked for free two-hour parking on the Franklin Street extension that runs between Louis’s Pizza and Jefferson Street. The planning board will have final approval of which two spots are used.


City officials have been enthusiastic about The Lot’s potential benefits to Biddeford.

“The opportunity to change over food cart operators daily will provide a mixture of food options for the community,” wrote Mathew Eddy, the city’s planning and development director, in a memo to the council before the March 15 easement vote. “The food court may provide a unique attraction to the downtown food industry and fuel the city’s further redevelopment. ”

Liautaud said the project is “designed and ready to go” but finding a contractor able to take on the project in the next few months could prove challenging because construction companies are particularly busy right now. He put the project out to bid last week.

“We’re hoping that someone will come back and say they can do it by this summer so we can get it up and going,” he said. If not, he’ll aim to open it by fall or next year.

His plan is to keep it open half of each year, from May 1 to Halloween, and he said he may use the space to create a seasonal experience on the lot over the winter holidays.

As for his thoughts about The Lot’s food and the rotating schedule, he plans to stay flexible.

“My goal is to let it take on its own personality, whatever that looks like,” he said.

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