WELLS, ME – Congdon’s After Dark, New England’s first daily food truck park, will reopen on June 4th, with a new layout designed to promote social distancing.
The popular food truck park was originally scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, but delayed the opening because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Gary Leech said guests will notice several significant changes that will allow guests to spread out and keep a safe distance from each other.
“We’re excited to open the park again and give our guests a sense of normalcy. The park is perfect because it’s outside and we can move things around to accommodate the state’s requirements as well as some of our own changes,” said Leech. “We will adjust as we go. We’ve improved the park every season and this is no different — even though it’s very different circumstances.”
The most significant change will be seating, according to Leech. The picnic tables that were once centrally located will now be spread out throughout the property, six feet apart or more. Other key additions include another entrance/exit to the beer garden, more park staff, signage promoting distancing, sanitation stations, and more frequent cleaning of eating surfaces and bathrooms. Guests will also be encouraged to wear masks when they’re not eating.
There will be no indoor seating for the time being, and the kid’s play food truck will be closed. Mondays car shows and Tithing Tuesday fundraisers have been postponed for the time being.
When all tables are occupied, guests will be encouraged to take their meals to go or eat in their vehicles. Leech said guests who show up when the park opens at 4 p.m. tend to find more available tables. Later in the evening can also have less people.
“We’ve got a lot of space and we’ll do our best to make accommodate as many people as we can, but safety is our top priority. No question, no exceptions,” said Leech. “We are a unique setup for sure, which is an advantage in a lot of ways. We just ask our guests for their cooperation and patience as we figure out what is working and what isn’t.
“We really think we have something special that will help everyone get through this a little easier.”
The beer garden will also be able to provide guests alcoholic beverages that can be taken “to go” thanks to a tamper proof seal. The beer garden is one of the park’s most popular attractions, featuring Maine-focused beers, including the signature Honey Dip Blonde ale made with Congdon’s famous honey dip doughnuts by Barreled Souls Brewing Company – served with a doughnut hole garnish. The beer garden also serves signature cocktails, wine, cider, and hard seltzer.
Last year, 32 different food trucks were invited to the park, offering everything from staples like seafood, burgers, and french fries to Greek, Brazilian, Italian, empanadas, crepes, barbecue, pizza, falafel, and much more. Leech said some trucks have chosen not to operate in 2020 or cut back services, but there will still be more than two dozen different trucks at the park this season.
The park will also feature a new addition in 2020, the Congdon’s “Sugar Shack” — a self-contained unit that makes miniature doughnuts fresh for guests and allows them to see the cooking process. Leech said he expects it to be ready around mid-summer.
Congdon’s After Dark opened in 2017 with three food trucks serving dinner in the parking lot of Congdon’s Family Restaurant & Bakery on Route One in Wells — which is open for breakfast and lunch — but the park has quickly grown as its popularity has increased. The park now hosts 6-10 food trucks each night, rotating different cuisine styles and hosting events like fundraisers, beer releases, and kids events.
The park will begin daily service on June 18th until Labor Day. After Labor Day, the park will only be open weekends until Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The park will open at 4 p.m. and stay open until 8 p.m. initially. Leech said the hours may expand as season goes on to space out crowds.
Guests are encouraged to go to the park’s social media pages and website to get updated information on operations, food truck schedules, and hours.
Congdon's Doughnuts Family Restaurant & Bakery is one of New England’s most beloved and well-known bakeries, featuring traditional, time-tested flavors that date back to its founding in 1955. Congdon’s continues to be run by the same family in the same location on Route One in the beachside community of Wells, ME. Their world famous doughnuts have been lauded by the Phantom Gourmet, Food Network, and was deemed one of "America's Best Doughnuts" by Food & Wine Magazine and Saveur Magazine. In 2017, Congdon’s After Dark food truck park opened, offering a rotating group of food trucks, along with drinks and family-friendly entertainment, from May until October.