Gas Station Gourmet
DOWN EAST LANDMARK
Comfort food and community distinguish this single store in rural Maine.
BY AL HEBERT
Most people in Hancock, Maine, cannot remember when Hancock Grocery wasn’t a part of the small town. It was a convenience store
long before people even used that term. “It’s a landmark. I don’t know if people would know what to
do without Hancock Grocery,” said Lynn Warford,
the store’s historian who has been working there
for 23 years.
In the very beginning, there wasn’t much foodservice but for a single hot dog streamer and a few
snacks. Through the years, however, the menu
expanded. “We started doing breakfast sandwiches,
breakfast pizza, then we added cheeseburgers and
a fryer. It took the store to a new level,” she recalled.
Customers began to ask for more food options, and
over the years, the menu gradually expanded.
But then long-time owner Terry McClusky
passed away suddenly in 2012, and the employees
wondered what the future would hold. The Hancock Grocery was more than just a place to work.
Who would buy the store?
Thankfully, Tim and Catrina Benson bought the
store in 2013. Tim had been operating stores for
over three decades and his wife, Catrina, was an
accountant—a perfect c-store team. The couple had
owned the Franklin Trading Post, just 10 miles from
Hancock, since 1999.
“When I bought Hancock Grocery, I was nervous
about buying another store. Did I want to get into
another venture? I was already working from 5 am
to 8 pm five days a week,” he said. “My mind started
going and it hit me: The food is what I could expand
on. I felt customers wanted comfort food.”
High on the comfort food list:
breakfast all day. Breakfast sand-
wiches have been wildly popu-
lar with the store’s blue-collar
customers such as plumbers and
electricians. The store also sells
pizza, subs and Reubens, as well as
Highest on the list, achieving
record popularity, is the home-
made macaroni and cheese.
Each day Warford prepares two
hot lunch items, and one choice
is always her mac and cheese.
“It’s usually gone by 11: 30 am. I
don’t know what to tell you; they
like it. I do a cheddar and Velveeta mix with Ritz
Warford is happy and a bit perplexed at the pop-
ularity of the dish. “I don’t measure anything. I just
do it,” she said. To meet the demand and to offer
serves as “command
central” for ne ws about
the small town.