A growing restaurant franchise is rolling into Richmond.
Cousins Maine Lobster, which franchises its lobster dish-focused food trucks around the country, recently launched in the Richmond region.
Franchisees and brothers Yunus and Thameem Shahul secured the rights to cover the D.C., Maryland and Virginia markets earlier this year with plans to eventually operate six trucks across the region. The first truck has been pulling up at breweries, neighborhoods and apartment complexes around Richmond. This Saturday, for example, it’ll be at Vasen Brewing in Scott’s Addition.
Its menu includes lobster rolls, grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, tots and more, with most dishes going for between $20 and $23.
Cousins Maine Lobster was founded in 2012 by cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac as a food truck in Los Angeles and has grown to operate 50 food trucks in roughly 40 markets nationwide, as well as seven brick-and-mortar restaurants.
The company’s growth was spurred by an appearance on the television show “Shark Tank,” from which the founders received a $55,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran for a 17 percent stake in the business.
Annie Tselikis, Jim’s sister and the company’s director of marketing, said Corcoran remains Cousins Maine Lobster’s only investor.
“(Corcoran) was the one that led us to franchising. When we started, the food truck was our first franchise model, and the second concept was our brick-and-mortar storefront,” Annie Tselikis said.
The company also has an e-commerce operation that ships packaged goods such as lobster roll kits and live lobsters. Tselikis said that Cousins sources its products from suppliers up and down the coast of Maine, and that live lobsters must be shipped overnight.
“All of our products go over the road and we have a pretty tight supply chain and very efficient logistics,” she said.
Ahead of its launch in the Richmond region, Tselikis said Cousins Maine Lobster leased a commissary kitchen and cold storage in the area, but declined to say exactly where. The company is headquartered in Portland, Maine.
Tselikis said the Shahul brothers previously had a Cousins Maine Lobster restaurant in New York City but closed it amid the pandemic. She said the door is open for them to pursue a Richmond-area restaurant, but that decision would ultimately be in the franchisees’ hands.
“We don’t pressure our franchisees to expand. We want them to be happy,” Tselikis said. “But if they’ve built the infrastructure in terms of human capital and their logistics, and know how to build business around the food truck, we encourage them to do that.”
Grilled cheese sandwiches for $20ish?! Yeah, no thanks.
Apparently, they add lobster to that. Maybe that’s why the price is a bit high for you?
Yes! I remember when Barbara C invested on Shark Tank and I can’t wait to have a lobster taco! I used to have them 25 years ago in San Diego!
We cant wait to try and support! Good luck in Richmond.
I guess it’s a subtle way of trying to erase anything left that is culturally Southern in our dystopian city.
I can’t even read this seriously.
Oh no! First they made us give up owning slaves, then the work mob forced us to eat lobsters!
2 combo meals set us back $71 after tax/tip. To be fair, it was a lot of lobster and the guys running the truck were super nice but I doubt I will be paying that again when I can pay the same for a full restaurant experience while also supporting a local business.
Holy cow; they will do as well as the DC franchisees/owner like pizza (Matchbox) and Mexican places (Uncle Julio’s) that come to RVA and find we just do have the population or appetite for their price levels to support them. Although probably $9 in taxes you paid on the meal is not their fault.
wondering where you can get lobster for two with sides and drinks in Richmond for less than $71 including tax and tips because I want to go there asap!