By Lowell Chase
I have been reading the articles in the Islander about the possibility of food truck vendors on the waterfront in the town of Mount Desert. I cannot fathom the thinking of those who support the idea.
With all the talk over the last several years about Main Street, and what to do to enhance year-round vitality, I see vendors as going in the opposite direction.
Putting seasonal vendors down by the docks in Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor will only make congestion worse. If food is available in the dock area, why would anyone need to go up the street? How will the boat owners that pay good money for a quiet place to tie up feel with more activity at the marina?
If I were one of the current food service business owners in town, I would be fuming. Does anyone have a clue what it takes to operate a restaurant to get through the winter with mortgage payments and so on? Today, where the number of year-round residents is so low, businesses have a hard time hiring local help. Now they have to search far and wide and incur extra expenses, which add even more frustration to the mix.
Back in the 1970s, I operated what is now called the Docksider Restaurant, (AKA Flick’s Lobster Shop). We catered to the summer residents with deliveries to their homes. We also delivered to the boats and did lunches for the crowds to take before heading out on the water for the day.
Back then, I thought it would be neat to sell sandwiches down by the docks, especially to folks taking day trips. I went to the powers that be in town and was told “Oh, no. We cannot allow that type of activity down there.” Lo and behold later that summer, a couple of the kids from the summer crowd began running a lunch wagon on Main Street, but it wasn’t open for long.
Back in those days, the main drag in Northeast Harbor was bustling with six places to sit down to eat and a couple offering food on the fly to eat.
In light of the goings-on in town for the past couple of years, why hasn’t someone taken the bull by the horns and done something about holding events such as Northeast Harbor Days? Businesses could run specials and maybe a spot could be designated for local artisans to sell their wares. Incorporate the farmers market, and we’d soon see folks milling in the streets. This type of activity has been done elsewhere and has helped the business flow.
Being from Northeast, it is sad to see how much it has changed. The services available to year-round residents are very limited.
The village truly needs affordable housing. Voters need to truly sit back and reflect before making a knee-jerk decision which might cause more harm than good.
Lowell Chase grew up in and owned businesses in Northeast Harbor. He now resides in Bangor.