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March 14, 2018

Maine Food Insider: Cousins Maine Lobster telling how they did it

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
“Cousins Maine Lobster: How One Food Truck Became a Multi-Million Dollar Business,” by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, of Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, is being launched April 17 by St. Martin's Press.

The Maine natives who leveraged their idea for a lobster-based food truck into a "Shark Tank" financing win and, at last count, a 21-truck, eight-restaurant franchise business in 13 cities, are now sharing their secrets of success.

"Cousins Maine Lobster: How One Food Truck Became a Multi-Million Dollar Business," by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, of Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, is being launched April 17 by St. Martin's Press.

"This business book reveals how the authors successfully built their brand and answers the question all new entrepreneurs ask, what's next?" a news release says.

Lomac has also been picked to host a new Food Network show, "Seaside Snacks and Shacks."

The Food Network website says, "Host Sabin Lomac, a native of Maine and a lobster roll expert, is in search of the country's most decadent and delicious eats by the seaside."

The cousins opened their first food truck, not in Maine, but in lobster-starved Los Angeles.

They started slow, twice turning down "Shark Tank," the TV show in which entrepreneurs pitch to business moguls in hopes of getting financing.

The finally gave in and appeared on the show, where real estate magnate Barbara Corcoran offered them $55,000 for a 15% stake in Cousins Maine Lobster. The rest is history.

Two months after opening, the duo had recovered their $65,000 investment and their additional $35,000 in startup costs, posting $150,000 in revenue, Mainebiz noted in 2012. Daily, 100 to 150 Cousins' lobster rolls were hitting the streets around L.A., with the duo relying on social media to let customers know where the trucks would be.

One of their tips for success, according to the news release about their book: "Always stay true to the brand and what got you there."

The lobster is sourced from Maine waters, including Casco Bay, Cundy's Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, South Bristol, Port Clyde, Tenants Harbor, Vinalhaven and Cutler. In October 2015 they brought all of their franchisees to Portland to see where the lobster comes from.

Last year, five years after that first L.A. food truck opened, a Portland-based food truck was added to their list.

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