Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy, chefs and co-owners of Small Axe Truck, have gathered a loyal following with their Portland-based food truck. They have also made no secret of their desire to run a brick and mortar restaurant, which surfaced again in September when a familiar food truck for sale ad was spotted on Craigslist Boston. Still, nothing was set in stone, Deuben said.
It appears the stars have finally aligned: Deuben and Leavy announced via Facebook that they will purchase the East Ender in January 2015, and have again placed Small Axe for sale on Craigslist Maine.
According to the post, the duo will close East Ender for "some remodeling" and hope to reopen in late February or early March. The plan is to retain the East Ender brand and continue "the commitment to local ingredients and creative, high quality food that our customers have come to expect" at the "comfortable, neighborhood spot."
Deuben and Leavy note that the move brings them full circle: "Our journey for a brick and mortar space has taken us around Portland only to bring us back to the street where we first met and worked together" at Hugo's. The chefs did not respond immediately to a request for further comment.
Eater reached out to Meg Schroeter, owner of East Ender, to ask about her feelings on the sale. She shared an official statement and then answered additional questions:
I could not have hand picked a better pair than Karl and Bill to sell East Ender to! I am excited to see all the success they will achieve moving forward at 47 Middle. I am infinitely grateful for all of the support and love from my staff, regular guests, friends, and family. Over the past 4 years you all have been paramount in helping me see through my dream and make it a reality. I look forward to seeing you all over the next 7 weeks while I enjoy my last days doing what I love most, sharing delicous food and drink in one of the warmest and most hospitable environments in Portland.
It seemed like East Ender couldn't quite draw the crowd that neighbors like Eventide and Duckfat could, but it also seemed like the spot was a local favorite for many who would suggest it to visitors as an alternative to the places with long waits. Are these accurate assessments?
Schroeter: None of your assessments about East Ender are correct. The business was and is continuing to break sales records and increase our reach while enjoying a constant outpouring of praise from our neighborhood, community, and out of town guests. The business has achieved annual growth of 51%, 27%, and are 32% respectively from Jan 2011 until present.
How did you reach the decision to sell?
Schroeter: As an entrepreneur your best case scenario is to create and build a profitable business and then sell it. The cherry on top here is that the buyers are two chefs whom I respect and whose cuisine I thoroughly enjoy.
What's next for you?
Schroeter: I am looking forward to taking some time off this winter. Hopefully lots of snowboarding. Pray for snow!
Any big going-away parties or events planned for the business in its last months?
Schroeter: It's business as usual until we close the deal in January. Our last service will be December 31, 2014.