WATERVILLE — Food truck lovers might have the chance this year to try culinary offerings from a variety of food vendors in one spot on Kennedy Memorial Drive, if a Waterville couple’s plans are approved.

Zhanpo “PoPo” Lu, 38, and her husband, Linjie Gu, 32, love to cook and are in the process of seeking approval from the city to launch PoPo’s Food Truck Court on a vacant lot at 121 Kennedy Memorial Drive. They plan to serve traditional Chinese food and lease up to 10 spaces for other food trucks.

“I’m so excited,” Lu said Friday at the site, where a new food truck designed by her husband sits. “I hope we can be open all year round.”

Lu said she plans to open the court in September, but it could be later than that, depending on the development of the property, which is to include a parking lot; tables and tents; a small, fenced-in playground for children; and landscaping.

About 10 food trucks now have licenses to operate in Waterville, City Clerk Patti Dubois said.

“They come and go,” Dubois said Monday. “In the last handful of years, it’s been busier. Food trucks have become more more popular in the last five to 10 years.”


Initially, Lu and her husband, who designed kitchen cabinets in China for a large company, will offer traditional Chinese mian, or noodles, with a variety of sauces, and jiaozi, or dumplings filled with shrimp, pork, beef or chicken. Eventually, they plan to add other traditional Chinese dishes, Lu said.

“I really love this kind of food because it’s different and it tastes so good,” she said.

Zongzi, a special Chinese dessert for the Duanwu holiday, is one of the dishes that Zhanpo “PoPo” Lu makes and is looking to  serve from her food truck at PoPo’s Food Truck Court in Waterville. Photo courtesy of Zhanpo “PoPo” Lu

Lu received her master’s degree in business administration in 2018 from Thomas College in Waterville, and is now enrolled in the culinary arts program at Kennebec Valley Community College, from which she earned an associate degree in early childhood education two years ago. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business English in 2008 in China. She is a substitute education technician III at George J. Mitchell School, where her oldest son is enrolled. She also runs the Discovery Play Group at KVCC.

Having grown up in China, where she worked for eight years for a large education company, Lu visited the United States, including Maine, in 2012. She wanted to continue her education so she and her husband decided in 2017 to return to Maine. They had their first child in 2018 and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, precluding their return to China.

“The people are so nice here, especially in Maine,” Lu said. “I went to Pennsylvania and New York City, but the big cities are so crowded. Here, there is fresh air and forests and nature.”

The couple have two boys, Tianky Gu, 6, and Tiandy Gu, 3, who were at the lot Friday with Lu’s mother, Xiurong Wang, who was visiting from China. Wang bought the property for her daughter and son-in-law, according to Lu.


The family members like to travel around Maine, and last summer, when they visited the ocean, Lu saw a food truck court with a variety of culinary options. It was very busy, she said. She spoke with the owners and they said the food truck business is a nice, small business to operate, and one that does not require hiring a lot of people. They told Lu that more food trucks make for a busier court.

Lu decided to open a food court in Waterville.

“I love all the schools, I love the people here,” Lu said. “My mother says, ‘People say hello to me here.’ In Waterville, everybody says hello. I want to do something great for others, and for the city.”

Lu said she and her husband have ServSafe Food Manager Certification for the business.

The property is in the Contract Zoned District/Commercial-A, which allows for a variety of uses, including eating establishments that close by 8 p.m.

Zhanpo “PoPo” Lu, center, holds her younger son, Tiandy Gu, 3, while standing with her husband, Linjie Gu, their other son, Tianky Gu, 6, and Lu’s mother, Xiurong Wang, in front of their food truck, from which they plan to serve traditional Chinese food at PoPo’s Food Truck Court, if their proposal is approved by the Waterville Planning Board. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The food truck proposal is scheduled to go before the Planning Board on June 25 for an informal pre-application review. City Planner Ann Beverage said the board could consider preliminary and final plans for the project in July.


The property on which the food court would be located is about half an acre. The family also owns a parcel behind it, bordering Merryfield Avenue, but the location is not scheduled to house food trucks. Combined, the parcels measure 1.25 acres, according to Beverage.

Jeff Allen of A.E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers of Waterville is working with Lu on the plans. According to his project description, motorists would enter the court from Kennedy Memorial Drive and exit by turning right onto KMD. Stockade fences would be installed along the side of the site to separate it from homes.

“We don’t want to bother the neighbors,” Lu said.

She said she received a lot of help in developing her business from Christina Dodge, her adviser at the Maine Small Business Development Center. Lu asked that people interested in leasing space for food trucks email her at Luzhanpo0702@icloud.com.

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