2016-10-10 / Front Page

On the road with The Gin Tin

BUSINESS MATTERS
Rod Harmon

Above & Beyond Catering staff help owner Gina Sawtelle, in window, celebrate the premiere of The Gin Tin. Seated from left are Kelly Nolette, Melissa Gould and Alethea Pettine. Standing are Tammy Beaulieu, Bridget Adams, Rosie Brown, Kathy Curcio, Renee Roy, Donna Cox, Stephanie Wilkins and Karen Jack. SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Gina Sawtelle Above & Beyond Catering staff help owner Gina Sawtelle, in window, celebrate the premiere of The Gin Tin. Seated from left are Kelly Nolette, Melissa Gould and Alethea Pettine. Standing are Tammy Beaulieu, Bridget Adams, Rosie Brown, Kathy Curcio, Renee Roy, Donna Cox, Stephanie Wilkins and Karen Jack. SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Gina Sawtelle SANFORD — Food trucks are all the rage in southern Maine. Now there’s a new player in the mix, but with a twist: a full-service bar on wheels.

It’s called The Gin Tin, and even though it’s only been officially used once, it’s already proven to be a smash hit, with 10 bookings and counting for outdoor events this year and the next.

“Truly we are winging it,” owner Gina Sawtelle said Friday, a day after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at McDougal Orchards in Springvale, hosted by the Sanford-Springvale Chamber of Commerce. “I’m not going to lie and say I have this big plan for it other than offering something fun for our clients. But since we launched it, it has been a whirlwind.”

The Gin Tin is the latest addition to Above & Beyond Catering, an all-purpose catering service based in downtown Sanford that was started 13 years ago by Sawtelle and has quickly grown into one of York County’s go-to caterers, especially for weddings. But as business has grown, so has the need for space – and efficiency.

You see, Above & Beyond Catering is located on the fourth floor of The Town Club, a red-brick building that served as a gentleman’s club during the first half of the 20th century. And after several years of lugging catering supplies and equipment up and down four floors, Sawtelle was looking for something that could both expand her business and serve as storage space when not in use.

Thus was born the idea for a traveling bar. Something that was both functional and funky, something vintage that looked like it could have been used to serve cocktails to Lucy and Desi after a day of traveling through rural Maine with Fred and Ethel in the back seat of their station wagon.

“We have been doing so many barn rustic, vintage-type settings that about a year ago, we decided to so something fun,” Sawtelle said.

In Sawtelle’s words, it was a novelty that quickly snowballed into a serious business venture.

Her original idea was to retrofit an old camper, but she discovered that most travel trailers weren’t built to support the weight of ice, full liquor bottles, supplies, etc. So she hired Ecodesigns in Hampstead, New Hampshire, to custom-build one for her. It took longer than expected – she had hoped to have it up and running by last spring – but she’s extremely happy with the results.

The Gin Tin has a display bar, reception window and solar panels, and sports its own water heater and internal power source (although it can also hook up to external electrical power if needed). It can hold up to 5,000 pounds of weight, meaning it’s both functional and stable on the road. And it’s shaped like a “canned ham”- style camper that was popular during the post-World War II years and so named because… well, it looks like a can of ham.

It also cuts down on setup and break-down significantly, as there’s no need to carry anything once it’s onsite. Everything is already in the camper, ready to go.

“For the most part, it’s just popping up the window,” Sawtelle said.

Above & Beyond Catering already has a full liquor license, so Sawtelle didn’t have to get one for The Gin Tin. And despite its name, it does have a full bar, along with non-alcoholic beverages – though Sawtelle is thinking about coming up with her own special gin cocktail to complement the Gin Tin brand.

The Gin Tin will be in use throughout the fall, then retired for the winter before being taken out again in the spring. For booking rates and other information, call 247-8294, email Gina. sawtelle@yahoo.com or visit Above & Beyond Catering’s website, aboveandbeyondcatering.net.

— Rod Harmon is managing editor of the Journal Tribune. Send business news to rharmon@journaltribune.com.

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