Update: Asheville food truck owners announce search for new downtown food truck lot

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

food_truck_lot_asheville_2014Update: Here’s the note posted on The Lot’s page on Facebook this morning:

Dear City of Asheville and supporters of food trucks, we are asking for help,
As of October 1st, 2014, The Lot at 51 Coxe Avenue will be under new management. This is not a voluntary change of leadership.
The first and only food truck lot in Asheville was started a few years ago by some of the first food truck owners in Asheville. We banded together to find a place where we would be able to share our passion for food with the public and bring something new and exciting to Asheville. As many of you know, it was a long hard fight to get downtown, and all of us as food trucks were thrilled to finally have a home!
Earlier this year, The Asheville Street Food Coalition (the small group of food trucks who help manage day to day activities at The Lot) approached the owner of the property at 51 Coxe Avenue about the possibility of renting the small building on the Lot. The plan was to put a coffee shop/taproom in the building. This would have let us bring in more revenue due to a more welcoming environment and extended days and hours. It would also have added sorely needed seating for our loyal customers, bathrooms, and even a commissary kitchen which would allow the food trucks more ease in running their businesses. Our plans were basically an awesome Austin-style food truck lot with outdoor seating, local bands and events, and a rotating roster of the best trucks in Asheville. Our dream.
At first the property owners seemed very excited and supportive of our idea. So much so, that by the second meeting, the idea strangely became theirs. The owner’s girlfriend at the time (now wife) showed up and announced that she would like to be the manager of the food truck lot, scheduling trucks and collecting rents. They wanted to partner with us, but refused to talk about money or any details about what they would bring to the table, and seemed to have no ideas or plans whatsoever other than rewording our ideas and calling them their own after each meeting. After ascertaining that they had no experience in customer service, no experience in the restaurant industry, and no experience with food trucks, we declined their offer. This was due mostly to the fact that there was no money to pay someone to do said work and there was no space for another “business partner”. We collect rent from the food trucks every month, which covers rent to the the aforementioned landlord, our electrical power, and very little else.
The property owner’s response to this was to inform us that we could not have the building at The Lot. They were also not interested in renewing our lease. They implied that without the lease and without partnering with them, the food trucks of Asheville may not have a place at 51 Coxe anymore. (i.e threats) They also then claimed that they came up with the taproom/coffee shop idea long before we did, that they were going ahead with their plan anyway, and we could work with them, but our future there was still in question.
After a long series of unproductive and frustrating meetings with these people, the ASFC offered two reasonable plans to the owners in hopes of moving forward as best we could together. In the first scenario, we continue managing the food truck lot and pay them rent as they continued to go forward with “their” taproom plan for the building, basically a continuation of the status quo. In the second plan, we offered the idea that they could actually fairly compensate us for an extremely reasonable amount of money (making them the owners and managers of The Lot as a business ). This would just cover what we put into architectural plans, landscaping, lights, power polls, the countless hours and money spent dealing with permitting, the electrical hook up, the huge beautiful planter boxes we installed, and of course would allow them to have our intellectual property, all of our social media influence such as our Facebook page with 3000+ followers and not to mention 3 years worth of loyal, repeat customers that we have built as the base of our business.
Their response was two of their own “proposals.” One, we could go forward with our plan to rent the building and lot as we attempted to do several months previously, but at an obscenely inflated price at the beginning of the leanest time of year for food trucks (fall/winter), that would assure our failure. Proposal Two laid out that if we did not accept Proposal One they would just take over running our food truck lot because we no longer have a lease, nor any legal protection from their actions.
They also had no intention of compensating us for any of the improvements we made to The Lot. In fact, when pressed, they scoffed and offered us nothing.
We are reaching out to our supportive food truck loving local community to help us find a new home! Anyone who may have space, please reach out to the food truck community! The food trucks owners are all honest, hardworking people doing their best to bring something wonderful to the city of Asheville. Many of them will be staying on with the new “managers” of The Lot out of the economic necessity of paying their bills and feeding their families, not because of a desire to work under these people. As soon as another lot is available most, if not all of the trucks, have expressed interest and desire to leave 51 Coxe behind if it is not run by and for food trucks. As much as it pains us to say so, please continue supporting the food trucks despite this unfortunate turn of events with the new owners, who have acquired the food truck lot in such an extremely unethical manner. All help and suggestions are appreciated. We love you all. thanks for everything you’ve already done to support us.
The Lot’s Facebook page will remain active for the time being as we encourage public comments, suggestions, and discourse.
The Asheville Street Food Coalition.

Original post Sept. 22: A disagreement between some Asheville food truck operators and the landlord managing Asheville’s first food truck lot on Coxe Avenue may mean the end of The Lot, as it is known.

A group of food truck operators met Monday night at The Wedge to talk about the future of The Lot. At least a couple of the food truck owners said they would no longer set up at the location. I’ve asked for details about the dispute.

The Lot at 51 Coxe Ave. first opened in the winter of 2013. The parking lot, which is also the location of a small building, was fixed up with electrical power for trucks and some landscaping in 2012. It opened about a year after the city approved its first food truck ordinance to allow food trucks to operate in downtown Asheville.

Since then, food trucks have also established a lot on Broadway, next to Asheville’s Masonic Temple.

More as I get it.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

You Might also Like


  1. Chris September 26, 2014

    51 Coxe Ave. has belonged to the same family for decades. They live in Asheville, were born in Asheville, and have raised their children here. They opened up the parking lot to food trucks in an effort to support them. I’m not sure what the trucks pay a month but I’m sure it barely covers the taxes. As the “Lot” has been managed to this point I haven’t seen any development there over the past three years. I’m still sitting on the curb and using the pizza company’s bathroom, which they have been very polite about. As far as turning the building into a coffee shop, what about the coffee truck that parks there? The rent for trucks would most certainly go up if alcohol was sold on premise. So what if the owners want to invest and develop their property. It sounds like the trucks are going to stay. By the way, “51 Coxe” is a way better name than “The Lot”!

    1. chett September 30, 2014

      Chris you are so right on every level, BTW ashevegas I know your not a news site but I would have thought for sure that you would do what the rag Asheville Citizen Times didn’t do……GET BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY instead of just reprinting

      1. Jason Sandford September 30, 2014

        Thanks for your note chett. I’m in the process of setting up an interview with Susan Macdonald, who is managing the Coxe Avenue site.

  2. Drake September 26, 2014

    Wes keep up the good fight. Unfortunately I just don’t see many places in East Asheville working. I live there and we don’t get a lot of foot traffic in any one area. There is a great coffee truck that parks next to the Azalea Café. He has grown a pretty good local following from us.

    The other place that would be sweet is if you could convince Lowes to set up in their parking lot. Home Depot has a food truck that seems to do great business and the Lowes parking lot gets a ton of traffic. Of course then you have to deal with their corporate BS, but sometimes the local managers have enough power to actually make decisions. We have a couple of nice local spot in the East but seems like there is room for more. Thanks for spreading local food Wes.

  3. Harry September 25, 2014

    They weren’t kicked out. They just don’t like the new terms. Imagine if they had spent $100 G’s plus building out a space and then LOST their lease and actually had employees that they had to let go. Instead, they can turn the key, put the roach coach in D, and go find a new parking lot.

  4. sly September 25, 2014

    I thought the folks that bought Hairspray, now called New Earth on 38 N. French Broad were renovating and creating a spot just for food trucks to hook up, use a kitchen and connect with the bars…someone give them a call and see what happened with that plan!

  5. Ashley September 24, 2014

    We’d love to set up at an East Asheville location, but we’d have to do the same amount of business we do downtown to make it work. The beauty of the Lot’s location is that it is centrally located, and many downtown employees walk to us during their lunch breaks. Not sure folks who have 30 minute breaks would be willing or even able to make the trip to East AVL. We are mobile restaurants, and much more labor, prep, blood, sweat, and tears go into making food trucking a viable business than people realize. Having said that, I agree that East AVL is lacking in the food department, and would love to vend there.

  6. Brenda September 24, 2014

    This is hugely disappointing. I am a regular customer and a big fan of several of the food trucks. I enjoy the variety of the food and the wonderful customer service. It is disheartening to hear how the truck owners are being treated, and that we may lose several of these purveyors of culinary delights. Those who leave will be greatly missed, but it is totally understandable and I respect their decision. I am disgusted w/ the way the new ‘management’ are handling things, and it is the food truck owners and customers who are being punished as a result. I wish those who stay and those who go all the best, although I do hope that somehow things can be worked out to the satisfaction of all parties. Brenda

  7. Jessika September 24, 2014

    What about Eagle Street? There is that weird coffee place with terrible signage on the corner and behind that a giant lot and building that is not being used. That area is central and might attract some folks from the East End area too.

  8. Brenda September 24, 2014

    This is hugely disappointing. I am a regular customer and a big fan of several of the food trucks and those who go will be greatly missed. I love the variety of the food and all of the owners are wonderful to interact w/ and have great customer service and delicious food. I am sorry that the new managers are behaving in such a petty manner that punishes the truck owners and the customers. I can’t say I blame any of those who decide to leave and of course will support those who stay. I wish them all the best, regardless. I am just disgusted with how the truck owners are being treated.

  9. Jeff September 23, 2014

    This is a very one-sided view of this story. Have you made an attempt to speak to the owners of the lot. Frankly, the second proposal from the truck owners sounds absurd- asking the owners to pay them. It would be sad to see the trucks not have a downtown location, but we should see information from both sides.

  10. Matt September 23, 2014

    More power to the dream you outlined in the first paragraph. Sounds awesome! Just hope it can come together in a way that works for all parties involved.

    Maybe we can knock down the Aloft and use the resulting empty lot as a food truck lot.

  11. Ralph September 23, 2014

    Shame to hear of this. Judging by the turnout, these are obviously viable businesses. I love he idea of using the perpetually empty building on the existing lot, maybe the owners will come to their senses?
    The lot between Patton Ave Pet Co and Jack of the Wood
    A portion of the HHS lot on Coxe
    Street parking around Pritchard Park
    Street parking in front of the civic center
    Street parking of Church street
    Isn’t there an empty lot on Lexington across from Mast?
    Market street
    Pack square/McGuire green

    For street parking, I’m curious what the city earns in hourly meter parking vs taxes on a food truck.

  12. Chad September 23, 2014

    Just a guess…the people that own that lot are from Florida?

  13. Nancy Hyton September 23, 2014

    I heard a rumor that the trucks might move to the lot at Grace Baptist on Haywood in West Asheville, same location as our Tuesday farmer’s market. As a resident and business owner on the westside I would love to see this at least one day a week!

  14. Ryan September 23, 2014

    What is the situation with the lot in West Asheville that was scheduled to originally be The Root Bar? There is a single food truck there sometimes, but it seems like there is room for more.

  15. ashevillain September 23, 2014

    The necessity of a specific food truck “lot” is only required inside the central business district, correct?

    Outside of the central business district, the rules are far more lenient and there need not be a specific “lot”…they can set up wherever business owners will let them, with some restrictions (e.g. # of days in one location).

    Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    I don’t know the rules on food trucks in Henderson County, but if any of you trucks could come out here, that would be great!

  16. T September 23, 2014

    Who is the landlord?

  17. cwaster September 23, 2014

    I enjoyed Plant the time I went there with my date. Good service, and the food was good. But yes, the interior is a bit… blah. I personally don’t care that much but she certainly noticed it.

    1. cwaster September 23, 2014

      oops wrong thread. please delete

  18. Sean September 23, 2014

    Maybe they’ll come to good food deprived East Asheville now? Seems like staying parked in one location defeats the purpose.

    1. Murphy September 23, 2014

      The “one stop lot” was a result of complaints from “brick and mortar” restaurant owners who complained that it was “unfair competition” to them because the truck owners did not “skin in the game” (building upkeep, taxes, etc.) and so the City (and the truckers) agreed to find a permanent spot…

      that lot is the result…

      1. Wes September 23, 2014

        As a truck owner that parks at The Lot, I can tell you that it was a result of it being virtually the only space downtown that could accommodate 4 trucks. As for the restaurants, their argument of it being “unfair competition” is ridiculous. We cannot provide alcohol, shelter from rain, ambience, or even a place to sit down and eat at a table due to extremely rigid downtown regulations. Also, we pay the same percent in taxes that they do just with far less in gross sales. Virtually all of us offer the same, if not better food than what is offered in restaurants in Asheville. I am an Appalachian Grown certified vendor so we sell mostly local fare combined with a lot of gourmet ingredients. In many ways, eating from a food truck is far better. We don’t have heat lamps so you receive your food the second that it is done. We have limited storage space so the food is extremely fresh. I have to pick up deliveries from local farms 3 to 4 times per week. The owner is always the one making your food and it is in my best interest to make you the best quality product. I own the Taste & See Food Truck, by the way….

        1. Murphy September 23, 2014

          My comment was/is a broad generalization of what was covered by the various media in the area when the food truck “issue” sort of came to a head awhile back…

          the bottom line is the City (and existing restaurant owners) did not want the trucks parked anywhere on a street proper…and thus the “one spot lot” (now 2 spots) was adopted.

    2. Wes September 23, 2014

      I tried parking in East Asheville for several months with very little business. I do 30-40 customers at The Lot but in East Asheville all I could do was 10-12 per lunch shift. If you can somehow muster up a group of people that would merit a 1 to 2 truck lot in East Asheville, I could try it out again.

      1. Anon September 30, 2014

        Someone has a food truck that’s surviving out near Kenilworth knoll/Tunnel Road. I don’t know if he would survive with competition, though.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Stories