PORTLAND, Maine -– Food trucks on Portland’s Eastern Prom are a summer staple, but some operators say business went downhill after they were forced to move to a parking lot.
The “Mr. Tuna” truck has been in Portland for years, but the owner said that this summer, sales have dropped by 40 percent.
Depending on what happens next year, the truck may not be back.
“It’s been tough,” Mr. Tuna Owner Jordan Rubin said. “The first month was awful.”
Rubin said that the drop in sales happened after they had to move in mid-June.
It was part of a city pilot program in response to community concerns about traffic, pedestrian safety, trash and more.
“We saw a little bit, a little bit, of an uptick in August but compared to the year before, significant drop,” Rubin said.
“Seen multiple operators not…even attend regularly,” District 4 City Councilor Andrew Zarro said.
Zarro is chair for the Sustainability and Transportation Committee.
The group wanted to allow food trucks to stay up on the Eastern Prom while making changes to the street.
“There were a lot of other factors that were at play,” Interim City Manager Danielle West said.
After considering a lot of feedback and suggestions, West says she decided on this option, but she’s open to other possibilities next year.
“It’s just a pilot program,” West said. “We’re trying to sort of lock in what we’re going to do moving forward.”
Zarro wants that to happen sooner rather than later.
He would like the issue to come back to his committee sometime in October or November.
“Because these are small business owners, these are employees, workers, who need to have a plan for next year,” Zarro said.
Rubin said that if the trucks are slated for the same spot next summer, Mr. Tuna may have to swim somewhere else.
“I can’t say for sure,” Rubin said. “We definitely would be looking into some other options.”
The interim city manager says she wants to hear from food truck operators and community members right now.
She said that feedback on what’s working, and not working, will help them make the best decision for everyone.