New food truck was longtime dream of 2 Aroostook women

10 months ago

For two Aroostook County women, launching their own mobile eatery has been a longtime dream. 

Alexia Cowett and Audrey Shapiro opened Simply Delicious Food & Treats last month, debuting it at the Crown of Maine Balloon Fest in Presque Isle. Now they have events lined up through at least December.

The bright turquoise trailer is an expansion of the deli at Rob’s Pit Stop and convenience store in Presque Isle, where Cowett has worked for 18 years and Shapiro for a decade. Their venture focuses on homemade breads, pastries and gluten-free options that are unique to the area’s food truck scene.

“We love trying new things, and good food makes people happy,” said Shapiro, who lives in Mapleton. “We didn’t want to be a typical food truck. We wanted to use what we excel at and use fresh bread and baked goods.”

Shapiro and Cowett, whose husband, Rob Cowett, owns the Pit Stop, prepare the deli’s food. Both are bakers, and Shapiro is a professional cake decorator. They said the food truck allows them to broaden what they’ve spent years doing together.

They started planning more than a year ago and worked to create their logo and a menu. The Maine licensing process took longer than they anticipated, Cowett said, but they received it just in time for the Presque Isle balloon festival in late August.

The festival proved enlightening on many levels and helped the women refine their game plan.

“The first night of the balloon festival, there were a lot of people walking around looking at what the food trucks offered,” said Cowett, who lives in Presque Isle. “People were surprised to see that ours wasn’t fried food.”

Alexia Cowett (left) and Audrey Shapiro prepare fresh sandwiches at Rob’s Pit Stop deli in Presque Isle. The pair have partnered in a new food truck venture. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

Simply Delicious offers an array of sandwiches on homemade bread and rolls, served with Fox Family Potato Chips from Mapleton. They also sell loaves of bread, soups, casseroles and desserts, and a variety of gluten-free options.

Customers prompted their foray into the gluten-free arena, Shapiro said. They heard from many people who avoid wheat gluten themselves or have family members who can’t eat it who said that gluten-free options were rare at local eateries — especially food trucks.

Since starting the mobile eatery, the women have reached out to other local and statewide food truck operators to build relationships within the business community.

The convenience store is a little off the beaten path, being a few miles out on the Fort Road, Cowett said. With the truck, they can interact with people in town.

“I love the expressions I see on people’s faces when they try something new,” she said. 

The eatery rolls into Presque Isle for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays near Crown of Maine Motors on Parsons Street, Cowett said. Next month they’ll be at The County’s Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 7, and at a Maine Federal Credit Union Ending Hunger event at Mars Hill’s Big Rock Mountain on Sunday, Oct. 8.

Having sold baked goods successfully at local craft fairs in previous years, they’ll bring the new trailer to the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce’s December craft fairs, Cowett said.

The duo even has a plan for when the weather turns cold. They’re looking into outfitting the truck so they can continue the business in the winter, Shapiro said.

Even though they’re just starting out, customer response has been positive and they are enjoying interacting with customers and sharing what they love, she said.

“We call it our summer home,” Shapiro said. “We have a great time. We enjoy seeing all the people and hearing their stories.”