Cielos Mexican Grill and its sister food truck, Schnitzel’s Austrian Grill, are leaving Bangor permanently, says truck owner Kirsten Pilot. After serving up the last burrito on Saturday, Nov. 1, Pilot will move her business out west.

Pilot, now in her third season offering Mexican food out of her brightly colored lime-green food truck parked in the K-Mart parking lot on Hogan Road, cited Maine’s relatively short warm season as the primary reason behind her decision. Despite long lines on most days that Cielos is open, Pilot says it’s just not enough to keep her in business — being closed five months out of the year is too big of a burden.

According to a Facebook post, Pilot plans to initially open in the Lake Tahoe area in Nevada, and eventually move to California.

“We feel we need a longer operating season in order to be truly successful and make this business flourish,” said Pilot, in a Facebook post over the weekend. “Also, our expansion possibilities are greater in the west, due to their existing food truck scene, and people who are already interested in partnering or franchising with us.”

Pilot’s other truck, Schnitzel’s Austrian Grill, will not open in the Bangor area this season. German-born Pilot served up treats like apple pancakes, bratwurst and schnitzel — pounded, fried meats — during the colder months from the Schnitzel’s truck, which was open for only one season from 2013 through early 2014.

Pilot nicknamed her original Cielos truck “Mathilda,” and opened for the first time in July 2012, offering burritos, tacos and nachos to her devoted fans, many of whom lined up weekly to get lunch. She moved to Maine in 2011 with her husband, Chris, and settled down in Holden, and soon came to miss having access to fresh ethnic food and dishes.

“I was starving for it. As a European, I’m used to fresh food and not microwaves, fast food and quick meals,” she said, in an interview in 2012. “It was at the end of February that I had the idea for this. I figured, why not? I have a passion for cooking and everybody is still alive after eating my cooking.”

Pilot couldn’t be reached for additional comment on Monday.


Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.