BRUNSWICK — When Nate Wildes and Jared Entwistle opened Flight Deck Brewing last year, they didn’t want to deal with serving food.
“We legally and operationally can’t convert to a restaurant the way we’re set up right now, and we’re not interested in being a restaurant,” Wildes said this week. “We’re interested in being a great brewery and community space.”
But after hearing that patrons wanted a consistent dining option, the owners brainstormed a happy medium: “Cook’s Takes Flight,” a food truck created with Bailey Island eatery Cook’s Lobster & Ale House and stationed at the brewpub.
The bright red mobile kitchen had its inaugural day at Brunswick Landing Sept. 22. It was intended to be a soft opening, but Cook’s owners Nick and Jen Charboneau said “it wasn’t so soft.”
“This weekend fish and chips were hugely successful; that was probably the most popular thing,” Nick said. “Fish and chips, pub pretzels, the chicken wings – we had good feedback on everything we sent out.”
Although customers can now enjoy seafood staples like lobster rolls at Flight Deck, Jen Charboneau said the menu will not always consist of seafood.
“I think the first few weeks we’re going to kind of see what’s popular and what’s working,” she said. “And then I think we’ll scale down and have a core menu of five to eight things, and then rotating specials.”
Cook’s Takes Flight is the first major collaboration between Cook’s and Flight Deck, although Cook’s has been offering Flight Deck beer for the past year.
On a personal level, Charboneau said she, Nick, and the owners of Flight Deck “relate really well.” On a business level they “share a lot of similar ideas,” too, including a commitment to the community.
Establishing a Cook’s food truck was something Jen and Nick had been considering for their business eventually, she said, but the new venture came to fruition sooner than expected when Wildes approached them.
After finding a truck that was “pretty well fitted” in their home state of Vermont, Nick Charboneau said a business in Raymond completed work to its exterior.
Jen Charboneau said the pair had not cooked “a single piece of food” in the truck until they opened it last weekend.
Even with Flight Deck’s new staple, Wildes said the brewery will also host other food trucks occasionally, which was the original answer to not having their own food menu.
There may also be times when the Charboneaus move the truck off site to use it elsewhere.
Wildes said patrons can still bring their own food to Flight Deck, too.
Cook’s Takes Flight will offer food year-round. Nick said next summer will be the greatest challenge to balance both operations, with the biggest hurdle being staffing.
Jen Charboneau said they are fortunate to have reliable managers, and employees excited about working in the truck.
According to Wildes, launching the new initiative with Cook’s at this time of year was deliberate. In the colder months, he said, people continue to go out, but tend to stay in one place longer.
To complement that behavior, he said his team is going to launch more activities at Flight Deck, but he also thinks the “natural way to support that” is with food.
Only an establishment with the experience of Cook’s, he added, could pull off bringing the local food and beer scene together so quickly.
“We seem to find this innovative little niche here that allows us to bridge both divides, which we’re pumped for,” Wildes said, “because the reality is, not many folks enjoy exclusively beer, and not many folks like to go out for food without beer.”
Flight Deck co-owner Jared Entwistle, left, Flight Deck business partner Richard Qualey, Flight Deck co-owner Nate Wildes, and Cook’s Lobster & Ale House owners Nick and Jen Charboneau in front of Cook’s Takes Flight in Brunswick.
Cook’s Lobster & Ale House owners Jen Charboneau, left, and Nick Charboneau at the window of their new food truck, stationed Sept. 22 at Flight Deck Brewing in Brunswick.