UNION SPRINGS | Unlike its possibly distant cousin, the Wienermobile, The Burger Boat is not a boat shaped like a burger — nor is it a burger that floats like a boat.
Armed with three pontoons to keep it afloat, the 28-foot vessel is actually a seaward snack shack — a nautical purveyor of burgers, pizzas, ice cream and, for those interested, frozen steaks to go.
Based at Frontenac Harbor in Union Springs, The Burger Boat calls Cayuga Lake home. Much like a grounded pizza delivery service, the ship's service area spans from the harbor to as far as one of the lake's hot spots, the cove.
"The boaters go nuts over it," said Aaron Hoskins, the ship's captain. "When we come back (to the harbor), the boaters will come here and sit down at the picnic table. It's real nice on a Friday night."
The ship was purchased by Hoskins last fall with the idea of showcasing farm-raised beef cultured by him and his wife, Liz, on their Auburn farm. They are joined by their 9-month old son, Brody — the true captain of The Burger Boat, Hoskins joked.
Part of the concept was inspired by the "hassle," as Aaron put it, that people endure hauling food supplies on a boating trip. As such, the Hoskins see The Burger Boat as an affordable option for boaters and lake visitors.
After the vessel was outfitted with decals and food service provisions (refrigerators, pizza ovens, etc.) to health department standards, The Burger Boat was first launched over Memorial Day weekend — and has not looked back since, Aaron said.
Indeed, the kayak trips across the cove prove "quite a workout" for the frequent deliveries, Liz said.
"We pull into the cove and the phone just starts ringing, or the kids are standing up on the decks of their boats waving," she said.
Aaron added, "I've never seen people get so excited when you pull up with this thing."
The Hoskins ultimately command a crew of about a half-dozen people on weekend afternoons. It is then that the goods are prepared, with an emphasis on local products.
In conjunction with their own beef, owners use produce from local farmers markets for toppings and side salads. The Burger Boat also deals in several varieties of frozen beef, including ribeye, Delmonico, tenderloin and strips.
"They bring a cooler full; might as well go home full," Aaron joked.
The owners have noticed Sundays have been their most popular day, and the meal mariners serve both delivery as well as drive-thru, so to speak. The latter service — sail-thru, perhaps — allows boaters to place their orders docked along the ship's side for more direct service, Aaron said.
The Burger Boat may take these services further across Cayuga Lake, and perhaps to other local lakes, Aaron said.
"This is kind of a trial year," Aaron said. "If it really takes off, we'll see about the future."
"What better way (to market the beef) than on the lake having fun?" Liz added.