A new food truck has opened up in Haines, adding new character to the ever-expanding food-truck scene in town.
Alaska Scallops, operated by Barbara Carr and Nadine Price, had its grand opening on Aug. 6. The food truck serves sautéed scallops sourced from Homer and Kachemak Bay with coconut rice, coleslaw and cornbread. The two women, who grew up in Haines and are second cousins, got their entrepreneurial start with the Haines Dames Sugar Shack serving baked goods and drinks ranging from lotus, to Jilkaat Kwaan coffee, to Italian sodas.
Carr, who lived in Arizona, said starting the business gives her the opportunity to become a permanent resident in Haines. Price also had the idea of returning to Haines after retiring from her teaching position in Anchorage. “This is home to us,” said Carr.
The two women came up with a five-year plan when they were on vacation in Jamaica on how to come back to Haines. The five-year plan became a seven-year plan when the pandemic hit and “life got in the way.”
However, they were finally able to purchase the Sugar Shack in Arizona and drive it up to Haines to start their business this summer.
To get started, the women applied for a Tlingit & Haida small business grant. “The money they provided was our start-up fund and it really gave us a good foundation,” said Price. The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida also provided classes on organization, promotion, and marketing, which Carr said was a “big help.”
The first lesson they learned in the business: “consistency is key for success,” said Carr. “Our goal was to always be here, regardless of rain, shine, or wind. We’re not just here for the tours,” she said.
Business has been steady since they opened the Sugar Shack and more recently, Alaska Scallops. “It’s been what we expected, but a little more,” said Price. The women say they plan on serving food and drinks until the end of September, and return with an expanded menu featuring local ingredients next April..
When they were last living in Haines, there weren’t that many food trucks in town, but that has changed in recent years.
One of the food trucks in town that made some waves on social media last week is Chris Peterson’s pretzel truck. He had posted on Facebook that he was interested in selling his business, but now there are “not for sale” signs plastered around the truck.
“I had temporary plans to sell the business, and then reconsidered,” said Peterson.
Peterson, who is originally from Juneau, started his pretzel business in downtown Juneau to provide a job for his daughter. When asked ‘why pretzels?’ Peterson responded, “It’s just what we came up with, and it’s been successful ever since.”
Peterson came to Haines in 2019 and 2020, then went down to Oregon during the pandemic, but said he plans on staying in Haines “indefinitely on a seasonal basis.”
Much like the Haines Dames, which received support from the community to get their business started, Peterson gave a special shoutout to Alaska Seaplanes. “With any remote community, (the challenge) is getting merchandise and supplies. Seaplanes has been very helpful for me,” said Peterson.
In Haines, Peterson said around 85-90% of his customers are local, even though he is only a couple minutes walk from the cruise ship dock.
Most food trucks in town are parked next to the post office near the dock. “Because we have such diverse menus, we don’t compete with each other,” said Peterson.
For example, Camino, which has been in business since 2019, serves fish and chips and falafel. Vija Pelekis, who owns the business, said the food is locally sourced. She enjoys being a part of the local food connection, as it makes her feel closer to the community. She recalled some food trucks that are no longer around, like Big Al’s Salmon Shack and Mosey’s Mexican Cantina. Despite the changes, she still says the number of food trucks is “the most I’ve ever seen.”
“Food trucks give people a lot of flexibility and creativity to put food out,” said Pelekis.