Summer means beach, burgers, business for Cape Elizabeth college students

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SCARBOGOUGH — For two recent Cape Elizabeth High School grads, hawking T-shirts or waiting tables just wasn’t going to cut it for summer employment.

Ben Berman and Jack Barber, both 19, had bigger ideas. They wanted to be their own bosses, to flex their entrepreneurial muscles.

Enter Mainely Burgers, the brainchild of the two college students, who will park their new food truck at Scarborough Beach State Park June 1 through Labor Day.

“We get to be at the beach all summer,” Berman said in an interview last week. “You can’t beat that.”

The teenage partners have been friends since they were 2 years old. Last year, they moved to the Boston area for their freshman years at college – Berman at Tufts University, Barber at Boston College. They met every Thursday to sample the burgers Beantown had to offer. 

Those weekly gastronomical outings quickly became research for the idea to operate a food truck.

“At first we sort of joked that our entire business plan was just the recipes we texted back and forth,” Berman said. Eventually, the idea turned into a 20-page business plan.

They showed the plan to investors – friends and family with cash to spare (Barber has been in the food business his whole life; his family founded Barber Foods in Portland) – and got the ball rolling. That’s also when they approached Scarborough Beach State Park and got the go-ahead to set up there this summer.

In January, they ordered their truck from a company in Florida. It arrived, wrapped and ready to go, in Cape Elizabeth earlier this month. Along the way, they’ve incorporated their business; received the necessary state and local licenses, approvals and inspections, and even hired some employees – their younger brothers. 

“For people our age, this is a big investment,” Barber said, although he declined to be specific. “We’ve learned so much. The legal process alone was just unbelievable.”

So far, Mainely Burgers has three events under its belt: A prom, a corporate function and an event just for the friends. The reception was good they said, and they hope the word of mouth will spread.

The Mainely Burgers menu includes classics like french fries, hamburgers, cheeseburgers and salads. Burgers range from $5 to $8; vegetarian options or chicken also available. There is also more adventurous fare, like “The Beast,” a burger with sauteed onions, bacon, pickles and barbecue sauce served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

For dessert, Barber and Berman offer up s’mores raviolis: chocolate and marshmallow sauces held together in graham cracker raviolis. They’ll also have the same sodas, candies and treats previously available at the Scarborough Beach concession stand.

The options don’t end there, the duo said. As summer goes on, they’ll be experimenting with other specials and burger varieties. 

“This is a full-service, gourmet kitchen,” Berman said. “We can do a lot in here.”

If business is successful this summer, the partners say they may let their younger brothers operate Mainely Burgers on the weekends while they’re back at school (Barber has now transferred to Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.). Or maybe they’ll bring the truck down to Boston. 

For now, though, their sights are set on summer.

“We have a lot ahead of us, a lot left to do,” Barber said. “But people are gonna be really surprised when they come check us out.”

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

Sidebar Elements

Jake Barber, left, and Ben Berman, two 2011 graduates of Cape Elizabeth High School, will be slinging burgers and more from their food truck, Mainely Burgers, this summer at Scarborough Beach State Park. 

Mainely Burgers’ foodtruck features a 36-inch griddle, stovetop, oven, and deep fryer.