Customers place orders at the popular Mr. Tuna truck parked on the Eastern Prom on Tuesday. Mr. Tuna failed to win a spot in a parking lot for food trucks during a city-run lottery Wednesday morning. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A city-run lottery to select the 10 food trucks that can operate on the Eastern Promenade this summer has left a sour taste for some operators who weren’t chosen to take part in the pilot program and say they are concerned about their businesses, their employees and the selection process.

“I’m panicking,” said Jordan Rubin, chef and owner of Mr. Tuna, whose mobile sushi bar has been a prom regular since 2020 and wasn’t selected for one of the 10 spots. “I don’t really know what to do. I don’t know how to tell the guys we didn’t get it. Our staff, they’re not going to know if they have a job in two weeks.”

Mr. Tuna’s application was among four that lost out in the lottery Wednesday. The others were Eighty 8 Donuts, Maine Maple Creemee and two trucks, Cheese the Day and Ironclad Eats, that applied jointly to share one spot.

The 10 trucks selected for permits in the random drawing were: On A Roll, BOGS Bakery, Falafel Mafia, George’s North Shore, Gelato Fiasco, Vy Banh Mi, Tacos La Poblanita, Cargo Pizza Company, Twist and La Mega.

The pilot program, which is scheduled to start June 15, was announced by Interim City Manager Danielle West in April in response to the concerns of residents and city staff about trash, generator noise, pedestrian safety, parking and other issues stemming from the growing presence of food trucks on the Eastern Prom roadway in recent years.

Debate over how to resolve the issues went on for months and led to a petition calling for the removal of the trucks from the prom, another petition with many more signatures calling for changes to the proposed lottery system and the resignation of the chair of the city’s Parks Commission.


Before the lottery was held, Rubin and other food truck operators voiced concerns about the impact on their businesses if they didn’t get selected for one of the 10 spots in the new location in the middle-level parking lot on Cutter Street.

They also expressed concerns about the process for choosing the 10 trucks for the lot, saying the city should have given preference to trucks with a longstanding presence on the prom and that the rollout of the pilot program was rushed and didn’t include enough feedback from the truck operators.

“We’re concerned for our friends and their staff members about their livelihoods right now and we’re upset about the way it was organized by the city,” said Dylan Gardner, whose Falafel Mafia truck was selected for one of the 10 spots.

Gardner said he experienced a moment of relief after learning his truck had been selected Wednesday morning, but he also realizes he was lucky to be chosen. “I’m pretty salty about the concept of the lottery in general – and that this year it excluded people who make plans and who staff up (to be on the prom),” Gardner said.


After Wednesday’s lottery, West met with the applicants who didn’t get spots in the Cutter Street lot to hear their concerns and to talk about ways to improve the program next year, as well as whether any changes could be made to the pilot program now.


She said the food truck operators let her know how long they had been operating on the prom and that they had concerns about the process of choosing the trucks and felt they hadn’t been given enough information about how it would work.

“I let them know I was appreciative of all that feedback and that it would be helpful for us when creating the program for next year,” West said.

She said the city had a lot to consider in developing the pilot program, including the needs of the truck operators, the needs of the many people who use the park, the impact on the park itself and the concerns of area residents.

“It’s a pilot program and we’re trying to learn from this,” West said. “We appreciate all the feedback we’re getting from the businesses, from the public, from the residents of the Eastern Prom. It all helps us to make sure this program is effective.”

West said she also talked with the food truck operators about other locations where they could park and asked how much space their trucks required to see if there could be a way that the city could fit more trucks than it originally planned in the Cutter Street parking lot.

“If we’re going to change or amend the program for the summer, it will be announced in the very short term,” West said. “I heard loud and clear from them that they need to know and they need to plan. They have employees they’ve hired and they want to keep everyone on board – which is very important to me, to make sure we keep everyone employed – so it’s something where I want to get them an answer sooner rather than later.”


Some food truck operators were pleased, of course, with how the lottery went Wednesday.

Jared Edwin, who owns the On a Roll food truck, which serves sandwiches and rice bowls, was happy to get selected. He hasn’t been operating on the prom this year because it has gotten too hard to find a parking spot.

“I would have been there a lot more last year had it been worth it – but being I was so far down the street, I just found better places to go,” he said. “You have to make adjustments in this business.”

Edwin said it would be great if the city could accommodate more trucks on Cutter Street, but he wasn’t sure if there were any better options available.

“I will say there are lots of other places to go in this city,” Edwin said. “I’ve spent a year going to the Western Prom. There’s never any food trucks there and there are tons of hospital workers who are happy to have food trucks there.”



Some food truck operators not selected for spots on the prom, however, said they aren’t sure they could make up for the money they’d lose by not being at the Eastern Prom if they moved to other locations.

Rubin of Mr. Tuna fears he’ll have to lay off six to 10 employees, or more if you count part-time workers.

He’d like to see the city find a way to include all the trucks that asked to be in the Cutter Street parking lot or delay starting the pilot program until next year.

Rubin also said he was discouraged by the meeting with West and is organizing a protest of the city’s process for choosing the trucks outside City Hall at 9 a.m. Thursday.

“If they really care about us and are grateful for our business and want to see us succeed, they will find a place for us,” he said.

Eighty 8 Donuts co-owner Garrett Champlin, whose truck also was not selected Wednesday, said he, too, is concerned that he might have to reduce the size of his staff this summer and wants the city to try to include all the trucks that applied for spots.


That would mean making room for 14 trucks, since two of them wanted to take turns using one of the spaces in the lot.

“If they take a look they will probably see they can fit 14 trucks,” Champlin said. “Ten trucks may just be an arbitrary number that doesn’t need to be.”

Champlin was disappointed that the city, in choosing the trucks, didn’t consider the variety of food that would be available or the length of time trucks had been working on the prom. He was grateful for Wednesday’s meeting with the city manager but wasn’t sure if anything would come of it.

“I’m very thankful for all my friends that got spots. I want them to do well,” Champlin said. “I just wish we were all a collective unit and could participate together.”

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