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Orange County

On Food: The Cousins Maine Lobster food truck opens its trap in O.C.

Cousins Maine Lobster has arrived.

The lobster roll chain now has its very own Orange County-roving food truck, operated by O.C. natives Roshan Patel and Yatrik Bhatt. Judging by the line at the truck’s grand opening March 29 at the Bruery Terreux in Anaheim, they’re going to be busy.

Cousins Maine Lobster specializes in food accompanied by authentic Maine lobster, a commonplace food in New England but relatively rare in Southern California.

“There are very few establishments where you can get this quality of lobster in a semi-quick-serve fashion,” Bhatt said. “It’s something that people love to eat on a regular basis, but it’s made with a delicacy.”

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O.C.’s truck has a specialized menu featuring the most popular items, including lobster rolls, tacos and bisque. All the lobster is indeed from Maine. It’s a wild-caught, sustainably-harvested product from wharfs along the Pine Tree State coastline with names like Casco Bay, Boothbay Harbor, Port Clyde and Vinalhaven.

The O.C. truck sells two kinds of rolls. Maine style is chilled lobster with mayo on a New England roll. Connecticut is warm lobster with butter and lemon, also on a New England roll.

There are also lobster tots, which are a mix of tater tots topped with lobster, cilantro lime sauce and pico de gallo. You can also try their shrimp tacos, lobster quesadillas, Maine Root brand sodas and whoopie pies (chocolate cookie sandwiches with filling).

Cousins Maine Lobster started in 2012 with a single food truck in Los Angeles. Founders Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac wanted to re-create the magic of eating steaming hot lobster in Maine, as they did as children with their families.

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Fortunately for them, producers of the hit ABC show “Shark Tank” visited their truck during its initial run and encouraged them to go on their program, which places budding entrepreneurs in front of “shark” investors with the goal of convincing the sharks to invest in a business.

In 2012, Tselikis and Lomac appeared on the show and struck a deal with “shark” Barbara Corcoran, who invested $55,000 and provided mentorship. Now, Cousins Maine Lobster has 22 food trucks and nine brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Patel and Bhatt have known each other since high school. Patel went to Cal State Fullerton and Bhatt attended Fullerton College. Though not food industry veterans — Patel is a former business development manager for Charter Communications and Bhatt was the general manager of a 24 Hour Fitness — they liked the idea of starting a unique O.C. business. They’re the youngest franchisees in the Cousins Maine Lobster chain.

“There’s a huge sense of satisfaction of doing something for our community where we know we’re going to make people happy,” Patel said.

“We’re here to stay,” Bhatt added. “That’s the most exciting part for Orange County.”

IF YOU GO

What: Cousins Maine Lobster

Where: For the most up-to-date location of their O.C. truck, visit cousinsmainelobster.com/truck/orange-county-ca

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Contact: (714) 602-1123; orangecounty@cousinsmainelobster.com

Bradley Zint writes about food for TimesOC. Follow him on Twitter at @bradleyzint, and follow @timesocofficial for more news and features about Orange County.


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