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Cousins Maine Lobster food truck to make stops in Northeast Ohio this summer

Local Flavor on Wheels: This summer, we’re trying area food trucks for our Local Flavor series instead of sit-down establishments. We hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Before I read about Cousins Maine Lobster on social media, I’d never thought about eating lobster from a food truck in Northeast Ohio. I’d ordered my first lobster roll from a food truck right on the Atlantic coast outside of Boston decades ago with my aunt, which always brings back fond memories.

It’s not every day that we Northeast Ohioans get the opportunity to eat Maine lobster. So my eyes bugged out at the thought of following the Cousins Maine Lobster truck throughout the region.

I had an agenda, considering lobster’s been my favorite food in the world since I was about 7. I don’t get it often, so would this heavenly seafood stand up to the test from a food truck?

To kick off our Beacon Journal food reporters’ summer exploration of local food trucks over the next few months, my husband Steve and I checked out the local Cousins Maine Lobster truck’s weekend schedule and made plans to drive just over 30 minutes to check out its fare.

Cousins Maine Lobster, which focuses on these sweet coastal crustaceans, started rolling around Northeast Ohio in early February and had its grand opening March 9 at JAFB Wooster Brewery. Since then, the new Cleveland-based truck has traversed throughout the Cleveland area as well as locations in Summit, Medina, Stark and Wayne counties.

The Cleveland-area truck is husband-and-wife team Savas and Victoria Alkoc’s third in Ohio, an expansion that adds to their existing Cousins Maine Lobster trucks in Columbus and Cincinnati. Savas Alkoc reported that things are going so well in Ohio, he’s adding a fourth rover truck to travel to festivals and other events throughout the state.

“The demand in Ohio has been pretty exceptional,” he said. “Ohio’s a big state. We didn’t realize how big it was.”

In 2022, the Alkocs bought what was Ohio’s sole Cousins food truck franchise from Kathy Nuss in Columbus — who had owned it since 2018 — and expanded into Cincinnati about six months later. Nuss, who also owned Cousins Maine Lobster restaurant at Budds Dairy Hall in Columbus, closed it last week.

The Alkocs, who live in Freehold, N.J., began as franchisees in 2017, and now have nine Cousins Maine Lobster food trucks in New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio and Pittsburgh as well as a restaurant in their home state.

The story behind Cousins Maine Lobster

Cousins Maine Lobster, founded by Portland, Maine, natives Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis, started in Los Angeles in 2012 with a single food truck. Word of their great lobster rolls spread and they were invited on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran invested $55,000 in their business.

That’s when Cousins Maine Lobster took off. The company stresses bringing the Maine lobster experience to neighborhoods across the country, which includes 47 cities in 26 states and Washington, D.C.

The lobster on the food trucks’ menus throughout the country come from the Gulf of Maine. All franchisees, including the Alkocs, train there with lobstermen on their boats, baiting and hauling traps, measuring lobsters, seeing the processing plant and following the product from trap to truck.

What we ate at Cousins Maine Lobster food truck

You can use the food truck’s handy app to order ahead at the closest location to you, during operating hours. We did it the old fashioned way Sunday, just walking up to the counter, and had no problem.

After a short wait in line, we placed our orders and gotten our drinks. Cousins offers Maine Root sodas from Maine for $3.75, including root beer, blueberry soda, ginger spicy brew, lemon lime soda, mandarin orange soda and lightly sparkling lemonade. I chose the refreshing blueberry and Steve had root beer.

I ordered one of the truck’s signature lobster rolls, the Connecticut roll, which features sweet, warm Maine lobster on a warm New England roll with butter and lemon on top. The butter was subtle, with the lobster not drowning in it, so you could really taste the lobster’s sweetness.

The roll was a little pricey at $20.75 but my husband and I agreed that this pure lobster, which is a mix of knuckle and claw meat served on a tasty toasted roll, was worth it.

The Connecticut roll is the No. 1 seller in Ohio. The truck also sells the traditional Maine roll for the same price, which is chilled lobster served with mayo on the bottom of a New England roll.

Steve decided to try a deep-fried lobster tail ($17.50), which was pulled a bit off the shell and skewered for easy eating. The tail was about 5 ounces, accompanied by drawn lemon butter and tater tots.

“It was still very light and fluffy and the shell protects a lot of it,” Steve said of the meat, which wasn’t breaded. In contrast, he also liked the crispy edges of the deep-fried lobster.

By the way, Alkoc said his trucks never run out of lobster. If any item is getting low, a runner heads to a local commissary to replenish.

We also shared a cup of lobster bisque ($7), which had a delightfully big chunk of lobster in my first spoonful. This sweet lobster bisque is made with roux-thickened stock, Spanish sherry, light cream and white pepper.

“It’s incredible ingredients,” Steve said.

Just to do our “due diligence,” we also shared lobster tots ($16.95), with warmed Maine lobster served over tater tots with a creamy, spicy cilantro lime sauce and pico de gallo. With a squeeze of lime, we really enjoyed the medley of flavors with the sweet lobster.

The food truck also offers lobster tacos, lobster quesadillas, lobster grilled cheese, shrimp tacos and New England clam chowder.

To top things off, we shared a whoopie pie, a classic chocolate cake sandwich with fluffy cream filling that also comes from Maine and was a childhood favorite of the Cousins Maine Lobster founders, who are actually cousins. They’re a whopping 670 calories, so I’m glad we shared.

Rather than hang out in a shopping plaza parking lot or our car to eat our lobster food truck feast, we decided to find a park. We were glad to find picnic tables at a shelter at Neura Park just down the road in Brunswick.

Where will Cousins Maine Lobster be in Akron area?

Feel like you’ve been missing out? Cousins Main Lobster will be at the Winery at Wolfcreek at 2637 S. Cleveland Massillon Road from 5 to 9 p.m. June 4, July 2, Aug. 6, Sept. 3 and Oct. 1.

The lobster truck will also roll into Berry’s Blooms at 2060 Granger Road in Medina from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 6 and will visit Filia Winery at 3059 Greenwich Road in Wadsworth 5 to 10 p.m. June 14.

JAFB Wooster Brewing will host Cousins Maine Lobster at 120 Beall Ave. from 2 to 8 p.m. July 11, Aug. 15 and Sept. 5, and the truck will be at Das Weinhaus in Litchfield Township at 3233 Erhart Road from 4 to 8 p.m. Sept. 28 and Oct. 20.

For the most up-to-date announcements about festivals, breweries, wineries, retail areas and other spots that Cousins Main Lobster will visit, see Cousins Maine Lobster Cleveland on Facebook.

Details

Food truck: Cousins Maine Lobster

Where: Northeast Ohio

Information: See schedule at cousinsmainelobster.com/locations/cleveland-oh or Cousins Maine Lobster – Cleveland, OH on Facebook

Phone: 614-448-1256

Anna Harden

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