BIDDEFORD, Maine — Business has taken off in recent weeks for a pair of Maine entrepreneurs after their lobster company enjoyed a whirlwind of attention through a pair of recent network television appearances.
Cousins and Maine natives Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis first got an exposure boost during an October episode of the ABC show “Shark Tank,” in which they pitched a plan to expand their burgeoning lobster-themed California food truck business to a panel of potential investors — including celebrities such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Lomac, originally from Scarborough, and Tselikis, of Cape Elizabeth, convinced panelist and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran to invest $55,000 in their venture, and the appropriately named Cousins Maine Lobster hit the big time.
In addition to their popular Los Angeles food truck, Cousins Maine Lobster added a Pasadena-area restaurant and — perhaps most significantly — an online salespoint for gourmet themed dishes, such as lobster pot pies and lobster macaroni and cheese.
“We were really, I would say at the moment, we were a little overwhelmed,” recalled Lomac, who returned to Maine this week. “It was a great decision for us, but there were really a lot of emotions. There was a big build up. We thought about it a million times and we finally got to do it. We loved how it turned out. We’re working with Barbara Corcoran and she’s absolutely amazing.”
But the fledgling company’s proverbial 15 minutes of fame didn’t end with the airing of “Shark Tank.” On Nov. 1, the cousins appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and built even more momentum. Lomac said the morning show appearance made clear to potential customers that they didn’t have to travel to southern California to try a Cousins dish — that the company was promoting a robust online business as well.
“We did about 2,500 sales in one night that Thursday,” Lomac said. “We were just slammed. Previously, people just saw us on [‘Shark Tank’] and said, ‘That’s great, but they’re just a food truck in LA.’”
Although Tselikis and Lomac are now headquartered in the Los Angeles area, they rely on their Maine ties to get their hands on the state’s signature seafood quickly and efficiently. They employ as many as 50 people at a 7,000-square-foot processing facility in Biddeford, where online sales orders are fulfilled.
Lomac said Gov. Paul LePage plans to recognize the company for creating Maine jobs and for promoting the Maine lobster brand across the country.
“We want to be the people where, if you think of Maine lobster, you think of Cousins,” Lomac said. “We want to get more trucks on the road, we want to open up some more restaurants. But the next big focus is building the online presence and making the best possible products. Really, the sky’s the limit. Every day, more and more opportunities present themselves. You never know what’s going to happen next.”