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Finally, a place to park: Food truck hub to open in downtown Anchorage this May

Anchorage food trucks will have a new home downtown this summer.

Darrin Huycke, organizer of the Spenard Food Truck Carnival, announced Thursday that "K Street Eats," a food truck "hub," will open May 2 in a vacant lot at K Street and Eighth Avenue.

Huycke said he worked out an agreement with the Anchorage Community Development Authority for the vendors to park at the space for the summer. K Street Eats will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and for some special events on the weekends.

The hub will host up to 15 food vendors at a time, similar to the "food truck pods" of Seattle and Portland, Oregon. All the vendors will be mobile.

Huycke said the lineup of vendors will change regularly. The Spenard Food Truck Carnival -- which can host up to 10 vendors at a time -- will continue to operate on Thursdays.

Huycke said finding a regular location has been a long time coming for the Anchorage food truck scene. As the trucks grow in popularity, they've run into challenges finding places to operate.

Efforts to park them downtown have gotten pushback when businesses protested trucks serving food from the right-of-way. In October, the Fireweed Take In, designed as a year-round food truck meetup, was shut down after city code inspectors found there wasn't enough parking at the Midtown building (on Fireweed near C Street).

That story piqued the interest of Andrew Halcro, executive director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority. Tasked with developing business opportunities downtown, among other duties, Halcro reached out to Huycke to see if they could find space for the food trucks downtown.

As it turned out, they could. The authority owns several vacant lots at K and Eighth, all set aside for a long-term housing development. Halcro said not only was the unused lot just sitting there, but the location was ideal. It's the right size for fitting multiple vendors, only a block from green spaces like the Delaney Park Strip, and about three blocks from the downtown core.

And the food hub fits with the authority's task of bringing fresh ideas into the downtown district.

"We just felt it was really cool," Halcro said in a phone interview Wednesday. "And we felt it added a really good vibe to downtown."

The food hub will continue through Aug. 19. The agreement to use the lot is for only one summer, after which they'll consider extending the agreement for another year, Huycke said.

Huycke said there are still things to figure out -- he plans to start a Kickstarter drive to raise money for additional picnic tables and tents -- but he hopes to be ready for the opening in May.

That's good news for food truck owners. Sheryl Whitmer, manager of Oh My Goodness Sammies and Pies, said having a permanent location downtown would be a game changer.

Her grilled cheese and pie truck was one of several that operated at the Fireweed Take In. She's heard from people who said they were happy to see the trucks in a centralized location instead of having to chase them around Anchorage. She thinks a more consistent location will present an opportunity for more food truck business growth.

"Once people knew we would be there, we got a lot of repeat customers," she said Wednesday. "With this you know where you're going to be. I think it will be a huge benefit."

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