Drawing in hungry Bowdoin students with fresh and mouthwatering sushi rolls, the Mr. Tuna food truck has quickly become a staple of the Bowdoin foodie’s diet. The truck offers an array of sushi roll options of every style and flavor, satisfying customers no matter their personal taste.
Mr. Tuna was founded in 2017, when owner Jared Rubin and manager Marisa Lewiecki purchased a used hot dog cart off of Craigslist. After a profitable first year operating on Commercial Street in Portland, the business expanded to a brick-and-mortar store located in Portland. The restaurant has allowed the pair to hire more employees, increase the sushi offerings on their menu and reach a broader customer base.
“The market started [with] just seven seats, and now we’ve expanded [to] have 19 seats in here,” Rubin said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We have a full sushi menu now, not just the staples.”
The company now boasts three food trucks in addition to their Portland storefront, one of which operates at the Brunswick Mall seven days a week. Rubin, who has worked in the food service industry since 2001, was inspired to expand to Brunswick after visiting the town and seeing the food truck scene.
“I always remember when I was in Brunswick seeing all the food trucks up there,” Rubin said. “They always had lines, and it seemed like a great place to have a food truck.”
Mr. Tuna’s operations in Brunswick have allowed Rubin and his employees to connect with the Brunswick community and Bowdoin students by offering their unique take on sushi.
“The people of Brunswick really embraced us,” Rubin said. “There’s not really much sushi up there.”
Bowdoin students have also welcomed this novel addition to the Brunswick food scene.
“I like their food! It’s rare to see a sushi food truck, and they do a good job. [I’m] glad we have more and more food options in Brunswick,” said Sean Xie ’21 in a message to the Orient.
The Mr. Tuna food truck in Brunswick usually operates with two employees who make fresh sushi rolls to-order. To ensure they deliver the best quality product, the fish is never frozen: it’s prepared and put on the trucks in the early morning to be sold later that day.
“All the fish is cut at the market … all the vegetables, the sauces, everything is made here at the restaurant, and then it gets packed,” Rubin said.
Rubin and his team at Mr. Tuna have committed to bringing high-quality and tasty sushi to Mainers at an affordable price point.
“We buy the same quality fish as if you go to, say, New York City,” Rubin said. “We want to make it way more accessible, more fun and less pretentious.”
Surprisingly, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic benefited Mr. Tuna and their Brunswick food truck. While their storefront was closed from March to November of 2020, their food trucks remained open and served as a gathering space for members of the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities.
“People weren’t eating inside restaurants, so places like the [Portland] promenade and the Brunswick mall kind of became a gathering place more than ever,” said Rubin.
Bowdoin approached Rubin earlier this year to cater the May 1 celebration, and the business agreed to park their truck on the quad for the duration of the event. During the celebration, the truck offered a variety of sushi rolls that catered to the wide range of the tastes of Bowdoin students. Menu options ranged from the tame yet flavorful sweet potato roll to the more adventurous spicy salmon and taki rolls.
The truck, which was parked in front of Ladd House and sold out within two hours of the start of the celebration, was well-received by the Bowdoin student body.
“I think students really appreciate [Mr. Tuna],” said Jose Mota ’23 in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “It was a good choice by Bowdoin. It’s not too often that we get a sushi food truck.”
The novelty of the food truck itself also contributed to the positive student response. Bowdoin students seized the opportunity to eat a meal not commonly served at events or in the dining hall.
“A soon as Bowdoin reached out, we said we’d love to do it, and it was a really cool event,” said Rubin. “It [went] super smoothly, and you guys ate a ton of food!”