Update, 1/15/15: Justin Rexroad reached out via email to set the record straight. His comments are posted below with permission and with minimal edits for clarity:
Debbie [Driscoll] is not against having a restaurant in that space....or maybe she is in general but not in my case. When I first looked into leasing the spot for the truck I asked about the rental unit more out of curiosity as to what may go in...wasn't even thinking about me/restaurant. She said she was not sure but did not want a restaurant. A few weeks later, after I catered an event at Tributary for a lot of the restaurant owners/chefs/investors, she came to me offering to allow ME to open a restaurant because she heard a substantial amount of "buzz" and we also instantly got along. Since that day she has been 10,000% behind me having a restaurant in that location or anywhere else to the point that she has even come to me with great potential spots or potential future openings. She has offered an amazing amount of support to me with great business ideas, marketing for me, and everything else. She is an amazing woman that does an incredible amount (out of pocket and without the intent of a financial return) for this amazing town and area.
Belle's on Wheels, which launched last fall, is braving the winter in the parking lot of Tributary Brewing Company. The food truck is owned and operated by chef Justin Rexroad, who makes "sliders you'll need both hands for," as the tagline goes. Business is brisk, as is the weather; on any given Saturday, tasting room visitors step outside to order lamb sliders and poutine, meatball sliders, or even a version of a Big Mac called Big Belle. Seacoast Online profiled the successfully symbiotic truck and brewery last month.
Rexroad is happy with the arrangement, but not so fond of the chill in the air that he wouldn't trade up for four stout walls. In fact, there's a vacancy at 10 Shapleigh Road, a large, promising space in the same building as Tributary and a post office. Is he interested in upgrading? Of course he is — but the landlords are having none of it, he complained.
Tod Mott, co-owner and head brewer of Tributary, suggested much the same. Tributary's tasting room was an instant hit with locals, who come to hear live jazz while they sip veteran craftsman Mott's latest creations, but the place is not a brew pub and doesn't serve food nor stay open particularly late. Mott would love to see a restaurant move in next door, which would likely move plenty of his beer and help increase hungry and thirsty traffic to the entire building. Naturally, he'd be happy to see Belle's on Wheels take over the spot. The landlords, though, seem more interested in having a retail operation than a restaurant.
Shortsighted? What do you say, readers?