At 11 a.m on a blustery Friday, March 2, two of Asheville’s food trucks set up in a nondescript downtown lot at 51 Coxe Ave., next to the bus station. The parking lot, dubbed simply “The Lot” by the vendors, is intended to be a mobile-vending hot spot, a diminutive version of lots seen in food-centric cities like Austin and Portland.
The early-March day marked the end result of a long-running battle to sell food in the Central Business District of Asheville, a cause taken up by local vendors including Suzy Phillips, Nate Kelly and Marni Graves. The food-truck operators sat through — and oftentimes argued through — approximately a year of policy meetings and discussions. Even after Asheville City Council approved downtown vending, the young entrepreneurs spent several slow months locating an available lot, then more months of construction to make it viable for business. Most recently, the food-truck owners were asked to purchase and install lighting for evening vending.
The lot is now complete, though it lacks basic amenities like picnic tables — those would require installing bathrooms, the city says.
The Pink Taco Truck with its Navajo-tinged Latin fare and Gypsy Queen Cuisine (serving Lebanese street food) were both on hand for The Lot’s opening day. The space will boast four trucks eventually, but let’s consider this the soft opening of sorts. Today, downtown workers and curious food-lovers happily (well, mostly happily) braved the chill to stand in line for fresh falafel or chicken schwarma made by Phillips, maybe a pork al pastor taco from Graves’s truck.
Soon, other vendors — El Kimchi with its Kogi-influenced Korean fusion, and The Lowdown Truck with its Southern-influenced sandwiches — will join the ranks. Expect a rotating cast of characters. Check The Lot’s Facebook page for updates.