Lunch in Portland’s Old Port usually means waiting in lines to get food. A startup food offering aims to change that.

Veebie rolled out a new refrigerated food trailer last week, and it’s hard to miss. The bright orange cart sits at the corner of Middle and Temple streets around lunchtime.

Tuesday was the cart’s fifth of 10 planned testing days.

“The initial target market is urban professionals,” CEO Steven Sperry said. “Our market research finds that lunchtimes are shrinking, and office workers don’t want to spend their breaks waiting in line.”

The company stocks up on local offerings from restaurants such as Sisters Gourmet Deli, Union Kitchen and b.Good. Customers log in to the Veebie app (at veebie.me), place their order from the options on the menu, then pick up the food. The offerings generally cost around $10.

The prototype doesn’t have locks, Sperry said, but eventually customers will unlock the locker containing their food by using the app.

Eventually, Sperry envisions that the carts could become self-driving, delivering food from commercial kitchens to customers at office parks, festivals or schools. “We’re starting here, but the goal is for this to scale up beyond Maine,” says Sperry.

Sperry was born in Caribou but has spent most of his life in Seattle, where he founded three venture capital-backed software companies. He returned to Maine a year and a half ago to seek a better quality of life and is the current “entrepreneur in residence” at Venture Hall, a nonprofit organization devoted to cultivating tech startups in Portland.

 


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