A new food truck aims to bring the taste of Maine's coast to Houston. A Houston outpost of the California-based Cousins Maine Lobster food truck chain is hitting the streets of the Bayou City.
Cousins earned nationwide notoriety when Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran pledged $55,000 for 15-percent of Cousins's business. Although the truck had only shown $150,000 in revenue when cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac went on TV, the business has since grown to more than $3.5 million in revenue as of June 2014.
That track record appealed to Houstonian Neil Werner. Already successful from a business he sold that managed summer camps across the country, Werner was looking for his next opportunity.
Werner says people have been understanding about the price. "We're bringing fresh, Maine lobster. It's not cheap to get here."
"We specifically searched out the guys on Shark Tank, Cousins, because of their passion for bringing Maine lobster to Houston. Really, all over the country, because we're opening in eight or nine cities," Werner tells CultureMap. "When I saw that as an opportunity, I flew out to Los Angeles and met with the guys."
After three days of meetings and trying their food, Werner was sold on Cousins. "One of the things I love about the company is they're very passionate about all of the sustainability practices in Maine . . . They really care about what they pull from the ocean, when they pull from the ocean and what they're going to put on people's plates," he says.
Werner is from New York but says he spent a significant amount of time in New England. "I'm passionate about bringing Houstonians lobster meat and lobster product that's like eating right off a pier in Maine," he says. "To be able to bring a world of different menu items . . . and have people sample and enjoy what we know from growing up there."
After a series of trial runs and a week's worth of training in California, Cousins was set to hit the streets of Houston Thursday afternoon at the Houston Public Library downtown. Then, it will follow a full schedule at food truck parks and events.
How is it? Similar to Maine-ly Sandwiches, Cousins gets the essential details of a traditional Maine lobster roll right.
They use a griddle-toasted, split-top bun and just enough mayo to hold the meat together. For $13, diners get a standard size bun that's overflowing with lobster meat. The truck also offers a Connecticut style roll that's served hot with drawn butter as well as some Texas twists in the form of a lobster quesadilla and tater tots topped with lobster and freshly made pico de gallo. For dessert, choose from a traditional whoopie pie or lobster ice cream — it's buttery lobster meat in vanilla ice cream that Werner swears is delicious.
So far, Werner says people have been understanding about the price. "We're bringing fresh, Maine lobster. It's not cheap to get here."
Besides, the lobster rolls are a lot cheaper than a flight to Portland, Maine.