The newest food truck set to open in Orono is run by three childhood friends who had a goal of having fun while starting their own business.
Friends Without Benefits, a new food truck set to park at 56 Main St. in downtown Orono throughout the spring and summer, is the work of Matthew Cunha, Delaney Brownlee and Gavin Russell, three friends from northern Penobscot County. It opens on Thursday, April 20.
The trio have been working on opening their food truck for nearly two years.
FWOB, as the three are calling it, will serve up gourmet burgers, hand-cut fries, macaroni and cheese and milkshakes from a renovated truck parked in a former bank parking lot on Main Street in downtown Orono.
The idea came to the friends, who met while attending Katahdin High School in Stacyville, during the pandemic, with Brownlee suggesting a food truck to her friends as a way to get into the restaurant industry without too much risk.
“Delaney came up with the idea during COVID, and I was living in Boston at the time, and it sounded like too good of an idea to pass up,” said Cunha, 27, originally from Mount Chase. “I moved back up here and we got started, but it took a lot longer than we thought.”
Technical troubles with the truck pushed the opening to this year, instead of last summer, which gave the three even more time to perfect their recipes. Previously, Brownlee, 27, was a longtime bartender at Seasons Restaurant in Bangor, where Cunha also worked, while Russell, 26, was a fry cook at Craig’s Clam Shop in his hometown of Patten.
“We definitely have spent our time in the industry and have seen how to do things,” Cunha said. “I think, for us, we just wanted an opportunity to have fun but still start our own business. It’s kind of the dream.”
Aside from classic hamburgers and cheeseburgers, FWOB will have specialty burgers topped with homemade sauces, including buffalo, sweet chili and a secret FWOB sauce. A chicken burger and a plant-based burger will round out the menu, alongside loaded fries and made-to-order milkshakes. They plan to cater in large part to University of Maine students.
Cunha said the name of their truck is a reference to the three friends’ long-standing relationship, based on a lot of inside jokes.
“People always see the three of us together and think there’s something going on, but we are just super tight and Delaney is married, so this was just a joke about that,” Cunha said. “It definitely fits our whole vibe as friends. We like to have a good time.”
Friends Without Benefits will be open for lunch and dinner, starting at 11 a.m. Thursdays-Sundays.