The Portland Press Herald
Portland entrepreneur pedals his way to peddling cheesesteaks
June 17th, 2019
PORTLAND — The city’s newest food truck is not a truck at all.
Last month, Portland resident Peter Murphy launched Rebel Cheesesteaks, a mobile food cart powered by an electric bicycle.
Murphy, 29, said he has always dreamed of operating his own small business, and as a native of Princeton, New Jersey – near Philadelphia – grew up on cheesesteaks. While living in Oakland, California, for six years, Murphy saw many successful food cart ventures and longed to start one when he moved to Portland to be closer to family in August 2016.
After two years managing The Other Side Deli on Veranda Street, in January Murphy decided to look into what it would take to operate a food cart of his own.
“I don’t have a business partner on this. The idea of being mobile stemmed from me doing this alone,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion for bikes. When I lived in California, I didn’t have a car. I biked everywhere.”
Murphy’s cart was designed with the help of Patric Santerre, co-owner of Arcadia designworks, an architecture and industrial design firm in Portland.
Santerre said fulfilling Murphy’s dream wouldn’t have been possible without the help of William Bruce of TunnelWerks International, a Portland-based welding and fabricating company, which built the unit, and Giselle Larios, of Atelier Stitch, who built the canopy.
Santerre said the success of the cart’s design was the result of the design and modeling skills of Andre Clement, a recent graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology’s industrial design program in Boston.
“As a team, we worked well together to fulfill this gentleman’s life dream,” Santerre said.
Arcadia designworks co-owner Celeste Bard said this was the first time her firm designed a food cart.
“There was a lot that had to go into a small space and still be manageable for him to be able to take it apart and move,” Bard said.
After going through several designs, Santerre said, he opted to “go back to the basics and keep it simple.”
Rebel Cheesesteaks, named for the Rebel Alliance from “Star Wars,” offers cheesesteaks with shaved rib eye and/or smoked mushrooms, with a choice of toppings, cheese and sauce.
Since he opened in late May, Murphy has been bringing Rebel Cheesesteaks to different breweries and businesses in the city. The cart can be found Thursdays at Lone Pine Brewing on Anderson Street from noon-8 p.m., and Friday from 5 p.m.-midnight at Portland Zoo, a bar on Fox Street. He has also made stops at Bunker Brewery, Good Fire Brewery and the Portland Gear Hub.
On Saturday, June 29, the cart will be at Lone Pine in Gorham from noon-8 p.m. and back at Lone Pine in Portland on Sunday, June 30, from noon-8 p.m.
Although he had hoped to be based in the Old Port, Murphy said he is happy making visits to local breweries.
“I think cheesesteaks and beer go hand in hand,” he said.
Jason Terry, a tasting room ambassador at Lone Pine Brewing in Portland, said he is happy to have Murphy out front.