By Lizzy Alfs | The Tennessean
Nashvillians will soon be able to get lobster from Maine via a food truck franchise that landed an investment deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2012.
Local franchisees Craig Betts and Quinn Raines plan to launch a Cousins Maine Lobster food truck in the Nashville market in April, serving up lobster rolls, lobster tacos, clam chowder and more.
“I’m originally from Oregon and there we have delicious, fresh seafood around every corner. I felt we were missing that here because it’s difficult to find, but that is all going to change in April,” Betts said.
Cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac pitched their business on an episode of “Shark Tank” in 2012, landing an investment deal with Barbara Corcoran. There are now Cousins Maine Lobster food trucks in 11 markets, along with a brick-and-mortar restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif.
Betts said the Nashville food truck is being custom built and will be finished in time for a spring debut. He’s working to secure spots at events and partnering with property managers and companies to serve at various locations in the Nashville area. Cousins Maine Lobster also will provide catering services.
“We’ll be all over. Our territory is the complete Greater Nashville area,” Betts said.
Becoming a franchisee for Cousins Maine Lobster is a career transition for Betts, who has worked in the insurance industry for more than two decades. His partner, Raines, owns a wellness clinic in Murfreesboro.
They took a trip to Maine to meet with Tselikis and Lomac, catch live lobster and see how it’s packaged and shipped.
“It’s just of the highest quality you can find,” Betts said.
According to the Cousins Maine Lobster website, the lobster is primarily sourced from three areas in the Gulf of Maine: “The Downeast waters in the most easterly part of the United States, the Mid Coast which encompasses the area from Bath heading East-North-East to Camden, and in Penobscot Bay near Vinalhaven.”
Menu items include lobster rolls, chilled lobster with mayo or warmed lobster with butter, lobster tacos, lobster tail in shell, lobster bisque and clam chowder.
Betts said the goal is to launch additional food trucks in the Nashville area if the first one is successful.
“So far, the previous 10 franchises have done extremely well. …The demand has been pretty high, especially in landlocked areas where it’s hard to get good quality seafood at an affordable price,” Betts said.
Another “Shark Tank” success story, grilled cheese restaurant Tom+Chee, opened a Nashville location last year at 6702 Charlotte Pike.