TREMONT — After an opening weekend affected by rain, Henry Helmke was surprised to see about a dozen people waiting in the sunshine to order outside the window of Quietside Snacks on the Tuesday following Memorial Day.
Helmke’s Airstream at 298 Tremont Road is one of two food trucks parked in town this season. Usually food trucks move to where the people gather, but these two will be staying put looking to host a crowd. A second one, Archie’s Lobster, is set up on what was formerly the McEachern & Hutchins lumberyard lot on the corner just after the intersection of Route 102 and Flat Iron Road.
To find Archie’s Lobster, look for the high-flying buoys attached to the perimeter fence and signs for ‘fresh lobster.’ Food truck owner, Heather Lewis, had her mobile kitchen custom made in Florida and then hauled to Maine. It is bright red with a smiling lobster in a chef hat on the side and 240 square feet of space. Those stopping in to enjoy a
lobster roll, crab dip, a grilled cheese with lobster sandwich or some clam chowder can sit and enjoy their meal at the head of Bass Harbor or take it to go.
“I thought this view would really sell it for people,” said Lewis, who has seating for 60 people and is planning to add more. “I would love to have a full parking lot every day… I’ve been thinking about this for over five years.”
Lewis, whose husband is a lobster fisherman, grew up in Southwest Harbor and worked at a local lobster pound for one of her first jobs. Staff for Archie’s Lobster includes her daughter and another family member. Like many other businesses around Mount Desert Island, Lewis has had a difficult time finding employees, which in turn limits her menu offerings. That being said, there is plenty on the menu to satisfy those looking for a taste of the Maine coast, and some choices for the kids as well.
“I pared it back to what I could handle myself,” she said. “I want to give a good product at a good price.”
At Quietside Snacks, Helmke has chosen to cater to more of the year-round crowd with a limited amount of seafood and more emphasis on fried chicken.
“So many people drive by here – locals and seasonal,” he said about where his Airstream food truck is parked – close to the turn off to Bernard Road from Route 102. “I’d like to be set up 10 months out of the year.”
An eclectic mix, the menu offers a traditional breakfast sandwich, Jamaican jerk pork tacos and fried chicken in a sandwich or taco, as a basket meal or on top of macaroni and cheese.
“As far as the menu, I just sort of found things I liked,” said Helmke, who is looking to serve employees of nearby boat shops, as well as construction and landscaping companies. “I’ve always liked to cook but never worked in a kitchen… (We’re) trying to do quick, easy food.”
Quietside Snacks is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and Archie’s Lobster is open from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Both can be found on Facebook where specials are featured, and each has a website. Orders for Quietside Snacks can be placed online for those tight on time.
While Lewis is planning to serve from her scenic spot overlooking Bass Harbor, Helmke says becoming mobile may be an option in the future, since his vessel was made to move.
“I thought it was a cool idea. I like the look of the Airstream,” he said. “We can take it anywhere.”