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Cousins Maine Lobster makes its way to Columbus

Food truck franchise Cousins Maine Lobster will make its Columbus debut Friday at Pins Mechanical Company downtown. The menu will feature items such as lobster grilled cheese and a variety of rolls and sandwiches. Credit: Courtesy of Kathryn Nuss

After working as an emergency room doctor for more than 25 years, Kathryn Nuss, a graduate of Ohio State College of Medicine, realized she was looking for something new to do on the side — an opportunity in the food industry.

On May 4, that opportunity is coming true. Nuss is about to open her very own food truck. But this is not just any food truck: it’s one of the fastest-growing national franchises on wheels and its grand opening will debut at Pins Mechanical Bar in Columbus.

Cousins Maine Lobster, founded by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, is a food truck franchise that specializes in fresh Maine lobster. It gained fame after appearing on the hit show “Shark Tank” in 2011 ––  a reality television series that features eager entrepreneurs pitching business ideas to five investors.

After securing $55,000 from investor Barbara Corcoran, the franchise grew from one truck to over 20 food trucks in various parts of the country. Now, the company has generated revenue surpassing $15 million.

“I’ve been in health care all my life and for the past few years I’ve been looking for some kind of food industry opportunity,” Nuss said. “I was looking at restaurant opportunities, wine and cheese shops as a side investment and when this popped up, I thought what a perfect blend of my [love] for lobster and their brand and before even meeting them [I] knew they are probably people I wanted to work with.”

The idea to invest really came to life when she saw Cousins Maine Lobster again last year on an episode of Beyond the Tank, the show featuring companies from Shark Tank that are successful.

Nuss contacted the cousins, conducted a series of interviews, and even created a business model. In December, after applying alongside other applicants, Nuss was awarded the Columbus franchise of Cousins Maine Lobster.

“We are incredibly excited to bring Cousins Maine Lobster to Columbus and we couldn’t be happier that we’re doing it with Columbus resident, Kathryn Nuss,” Tselikis and Lomac said in an email.

But beyond the success of the franchise, Nuss said she was attracted to the quality of food and the niche market that this food truck was targeting

The menu will include items like the Connecticut roll, a New England style roll served with Maine lobster and warmed with butter and lemon, Lobster Tacos and Lobster Grilled Cheese.

Although some items may be at a higher price compared to other food trucks, Nuss says that her products are an “affordable luxury.”

This new cuisine will be served all over Columbus, and will be operating six times throughout the month of May at Ohio State, various festivals around Columbus, private events and possibly at Ohio State football games, Nuss said

“We are sourcing this food from Maine and bringing it to central Ohio and if you look at menus here there aren’t a lot of places that have the lobster roll, and I think that is what the consumers are telling us already, Nuss said. “Yes, we have the taco trucks, burger trucks, and Asian food trucks but this is bringing a whole new experience to the food trucks of Columbus.”

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