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SF Weekly

Straight Outta Half Moon Bay, Sam's Chowder Van to Debut This Summer

by Tamara Palmer
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sam's ChowderMobile Maine Lobster Roll
Sam's Chowder House lobster roll is coming to S.F. soon.
Photo courtesy

Sam's Chowder House of Half Moon Bay has plans to go mobile this summer with Sam's Chowder Van. Fish and chips, lobster rolls, fish tacos, and ceviche cooked out of a 24-foot vehicle will soon hit the campuses of companies such as Oracle, Genentech, Intuit, Apple, Google, and Yahoo, as well as other Peninsula locales it will announce via its Twitter feed.

"We thought it would be great to take our product and give it a broader reach," owner Paul Shenkman told SFoodie. "I have been researching this for over and year and I think we're one of the first in the country to do fish and chips out of a truck."

The Chowder Van expects to serve 300-400 lunches per day (the restaurant handles 1,500 on a typical weekend day). The van's learning curve should improve dramatically after gearing up to serve the San Mateo County Fair later in the summer, when Shenkman expects to feed 1,000 people per day. But when's it coming to San Francisco?


While the Chowder Van is making its debut outside of San Francisco city limits, the team is already at work on securing a second van, which will motor over here. In the meantime, the first vehicle is available to go to any city or town for private parties and events, with a choice of either the same menu offerings or a traditional clam bake (clams, lobsters, mussels, corn on the cob). Chowder Van operations manager Juan Hurtado explained to SFoodie why they need to work up to the public S.F. launch.

"The fee alone is $10,000 if you want to get a location on a public street in San Francisco," he said. "If you want to get a city permit for, say, Foster City, you're looking at a couple hundred dollars. San Francisco is by far the most expensive -- nowhere close to the other cities in the Bay Area."