The Washington area has hundreds of food trucks serving every cuisine imaginable—Hawaiian, Russian, Indian, Peruvian. But the same diversity and trendiness factor hasn’t really caught on among sidewalk carts, which still predominantly sell hot dogs.
Could that change? Food truck pioneer Red Hook Lobster Pound is branching out with a sidewalk lobster cart dubbed Mini-ME (like Maine, get it?). Owner Doug Povich calls the “Rolls-Royce of hot dog carts.”
Povich initially launched the cart next to the Ballston Metro last month, but it debuted in DC today at 11th and K Streets, Northwest. The cart will rotate between the spots as well as another sidewalk space at 19th and M Streets Northwest. The best way to find it’s location on any given day is via Twitter, but Povich is looking to set-up a regular schedule.
“It’s a little bit difficult these days on the streets with over 5,000 food trucks in the DC area. The competition for locations is pretty intense,” Povich says of his motivation for launching the cart. With the cart, he gets a guaranteed spot all year. “I can be there at 6 in the morning if I want to do breakfast, and I can be there at 10 o’clock at night if I want to do late-night.”
Plus, trucks are much more expensive. The cart costs a third of what a truck does.
While most of the “good spots” are already assigned to vendors, Povich says he spent several weeks walking the city looking for unused spaces that met the criteria in DC regulations. Two of the five he spots he applied for in DC were approved.
Two people can fit in the cart, which is outfitted with a sandwich table, a grill, a steam table, and some refrigeration. When he’s not using it, he hopes to rent it to others, who can put their own magnetic signage on the cart. He’ll also use it for private events.
For now, Mini-ME serves the same menu as the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck: lobster rolls, shrimp rolls, lobster BLTs, and clam chowder.
In about a month, Povich is looking to start serving breakfast, which will include egg and cheese sandwiches on the lobster roll’s brioche bun, egg and lobster scrambles, and some type of hash browns. He’s interested in also sourcing local coffee and bagels.
And at some point, the cart may sell hot dogs, too.
“Well, you know, basically it’s a hot dog sidewalk cart,” Povich says.