BELFAST, Maine — The proprietor of a popular Belfast food truck specializing in lobster rolls has taken out a long-term lease in a brick-and-mortar location downtown.
But fans of the “Must Be Nice Lobster” lunch wagon shouldn’t worry — Sadie Samuels will still be selling her rolls and more from her food cart parked outside of The Ocean House at 2 Cross St.
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“This is the perfect central location,” she said Thursday. “It’s a two-minute walk to everything, and you can still see the ocean.”
It’s been a busy, not to mention occasionally stressful, start to the season for Samuels, 30, who splits her time between hauling lobsters from her boat, the Must Be Nice, and operating her food business. For the past few years, she has parked her wagon seasonally on privately owned land adjacent to the Belfast Harbor Walk. But she needed to find a new spot this summer.
She is also planning to expand her business by operating the concession stand in Belfast City Park, but getting licensed by the state has taken longer than expected, so she’s still not open in that location yet.
Samuels wanted to continue to have a presence in downtown Belfast.
In the nick of time, she found the right space. She signed a lease with Seth Thayer and Greg Tinder, owners of The Ocean House, at the end of May.
“I love Belfast. We didn’t want to leave, and now we don’t have to,” she said.
The last active tenant of the space was the restaurant Meanwhile in Belfast, located on the ground floor level of the recently renovated historic building. Thayer said he and Tinder are very excited to see how Samuels will make it her own.
“Sadie has such positive energy that flows into the building. It’s just so nice to have,” he said. “And I admire her entrepreneurial spirit. I’m pleased and privileged to have her as a tenant.”
Samuels’ plans for the space include having outside tables as well as some indoor seating for days when the weather doesn’t allow for comfortable dining al fresco. She also plans to have an indoor gift shop area featuring crafts she has mostly made herself — ceramics, T-shirts, coffee mugs, lobster rope mats and more.
Down the road, she wants to get her beer license, put in a live lobster tank and open a mini fish market to sell lobsters, bags of oysters and other Maine seafood specialties.
“It’s something that would be fun and that people ask me for,” she said.
The food truck will kick off the summer season on Friday. The gift shop should be open by Monday, June 20.
Samuels has a crew of 12 people who work at the food truck, which she would like to open seven days a week. She is still hiring, too. Last summer, staffing challenges meant she couldn’t open weekends in August and September, but she and Scott Whitman, her regional manager, are hopeful that won’t be the case this year.
“It’s all just about team building — we have a lot of returning employees,” Samuels said. “Working in a food truck is intense. It’s not for everyone. I think we’re starting to build a really awesome crew.”
It also helps that she is passionate about lobstering and about building the perfect lobster roll. Though there are lots of other things on the menu, including hot dogs, hamburgers, crab rolls, French fries and more, she’s best known for her lobster rolls in Belfast and beyond.
She was profiled last summer by Good Morning America and also won third place in Down East Magazine’s 2021 Best Lobster Roll competition.
“I never thought a little food truck could compete,” Samuels said.
Her secret is fresh lobster, and plenty of it. She and her crew can make lobster rolls however people want them, but the house special roll features four ounces of lobster, a “tiny bit” of mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon and chives sprinkled on top, all on a toasted bun. The current price is $28.99.
“In my opinion, that’s the best lobster roll you can make,” Samuels said.