BANGOR, Maine — The Vault XXL is a massive black limousine that looks and sounds like a big rig, but inside has seating for two dozen and all the amenities needed for a party, including a bar, stereo, dance floor and big-screen TV.
A group of 20 area businessmen and laborers loaded into the hulking limo on Friday for a ride to Kev-Lan for the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat fish lunch. Steely Dan music played as the group cruised the city.
The trip was planned to “change the public perception” of the downward-spiraling economy, Walter Musson, owner of Bangor Slate Co. of Newburgh, said earlier this week.
“We decided to go out and have fun,” he said. “Doom and gloom is seen everyday in the news and we wanted to say it’s not that bad. I think the Maine work ethic is great.”
The date chosen just happened to be International Labor Day, he added.
The men, wearing their well-worn work clothes, sat in fellowship while enjoying the hand-cut French fries and fried haddock. All are friends or acquaintances of Musson, but many did not know each other.
“I know about half of these guys,” said Andrew McKinnon, who owns historic properties in Bangor. “I heard about the plans and came out. I went to high school with Ernie [one of the men at the table] and these two guys are working on my home. It’s a good chance to network.”
While the Vault cruised the streets of Bangor, the men shared a few jokes, but “none that we can repeat,” McKinnon said.
Richard Higgins of Higgins Masonry of Bangor quipped, “I didn’t know if I had to wear something formal,” while pretending to tighten an invisible necktie around his neck.
Richard Musson, Walter’s brother and owner of R.F. Musson Construction of Clifton, sat across the table from him and said the gathering was a perfect way to get to know other small-business owners and local laborers.
“The thing is, I forgot my business cards,” he said, mentioning that he knew about one-third of the group.
It was pretty obvious that the men were enjoying their ride, the lunch and the camaraderie of the gathering.
The big-rig limo is one of several unusual vehicles that Hollywood Custom Rides of Brewer operates, owner Chad Clapp said, sitting inside the diamond plate-lined limo with a fire burning on the big screen TV.
“Different is what we’re all about,” chauffeur Paul Moore said.
Walter Musson said he was getting tools from a business located next to Hollywood Custom Rides when he saw the Vault XXL, and jokingly said, “Next time we go out we’ll take that.”
The limo lunch idea grew from there.
“It’s a good chance to meet [fellow] workers, and let people know it [the economy] isn’t all that terrible,” he said.