PORTLAND, ME – This month, owners of the Japanese-themed Mami Food Truck announced plans to take over a vacant restaurant space in the Old Port. Across town in East Bayside, former falafel mobile food operator Clayton Norris is hanging lanterns over a zinc bar at his soon-to-open Middle Eastern restaurant Baharat.
Meanwhile, up in Belfast, chef Seth Whited, formerly of the globally inspired Good N You food truck, is luxuriating in having a kitchen at his new sit-down healthy comfort food restaurant, Neighborhood, that’s 10 times larger than he was used to. And in Scarborough, the owners of mobile eatery Bite Into Maine have rented space on U.S. Route 1 to sell lobster rolls year-round.
As more and more of Maine’s food trucks morph into bricks-and-mortar eateries, their owners offer a variety of reasons that shifting from four wheels to four walls suddenly makes sense: The “right space” became available, tight quarters came to feel too stifling, the initial venture was successful enough to bankroll a bigger, more traditional restaurant.
“Food trucks are a great incubator. You can perfect your cuisine and see who your customer is,” said Sarah Sutton of Bite into Maine, a lobster roll truck long parked during the summertime at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. “For us, it was a big learning curve,” she added.
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