Central Filling Station: Year-Round Food Truck Park Coming to Central

Central Filling Station, 900 North Central Street, Knoxville, October 2017

The couple has an appetite for all things urban. Alden and Scott Larrick are determined to bring a slice of other urban scenes they’ve enjoyed in their travels and various homes, to our center city. They think they’ve spotted something we’re missing and a spot that is ready for something cool. The couple plans to start a food truck park, Central Filling Station, at 900 North Central Street.

You’d be forgiven for saying it looks like a large flat surface. But they see something very different in the potential the spot holds and they plan to give it the assistance it needs to achieve that potential. It’s an urban-infill project that doesn’t require much infill.

Alden, originally from Macon, Georgia, attended college in Ithaca, New York because she had a hunger to experience other places and, particularly, larger cities. After attaining degrees in Art History and Architectural History, she moved to Baltimore where she worked in marketing for an architectural firm.

Central Filling Station, 900 North Central Street, Knoxville, October 2017

Central Filling Station, 900 North Central Street, Knoxville, October 2017

It was there that she met Scott, an architect originally from just outside Richmond, who attended Virginia Tech. As Scott grew tired of the corporate world, the couple back-packed around Europe before deciding to move to Austin where Alden earned a degree from the Universit of Texas in sustainable design and worked for an environmental non-profit. Indicative of their adventurous spirit, before they moved to Austin, neither had ever been in the state of Texas.

While there, Scott opened his own firm as they watched Austin grow from 1.5 million to 2 million people. Interested in small business and small communities, it seemed to the couple as if opportunities had passed them by, though they found Austin a great place to learn and develop ideas that might be transported elsewhere.

As they began thinking of the next phase in their life, they knew they wanted a growing urban environment. They wanted to, “live, work and hang out in a small area.” Scott confessed they both, “like old southern downtowns,” so when it came time to move, they looked south. Knoxville caught their attention as it is situated between their families and it fit the kind of small urban environment that attracted them both.

Central Filling Station, 900 North Central Street, Knoxville, October 2017

They made the move, each working for a while on projects they were able to bring with them from Austin. From the beginning they wanted to do something food and beverage related – they both have backgrounds in food service front and back-of-house – and they wanted to make an impact on their new community. Searching for a home that, “we can fix and can walk to coffee and beer,” they found what they were looking for in Parkridge. They like to say it found them.

After considering some sort of brick-and-mortar project, like an incubator for restaurants, they noticed the explosion Knoxville has experienced in food trucks (they say there are around 60) and recognized an opportunity. In Austin, they’d seen a model like the one they are planning.

The idea is to use the space at 900 North Central, currently a vacant lot save for the remaining gas pumps, as a regularly scheduled food truck park with several trucks scheduled each night, but with amenities not typically found when food trucks gather. For example, they’ll have electrical hookups for the trucks so the vendors will be able to turn off their generators, saving money, reducing noise for the customers and being more environmentally sensitive.

Central Filling Station, 900 North Central Street, Knoxville, October 2017

They will also provide restrooms and a children’s play area. Seating in the covered area on the site will include communal and bar-style seating for around 150 in a cool shade. An outdoor bar will compliment the food trucks with canned and bottled beer as well as wine and non-alcoholic beverages. There may be music at times. Alden said they really want it to have a sense of place, a comfortable gathering spot for friends and a, “neighborhood hangout that welcomes visitors.” And the whole family – children and pets included – are welcome.

The focus, however, will be on the food. It’s not intended to be a late-night hangout. They’ve loved meeting nearby businesses and they don’t want to compete with them, but rather complement what they are doing. They intend for this to be something different from other ventures and they are excited to make it happen.

The initial plan includes both lunch and dinner shifts with four to five trucks each time. They plan to be open Thursday through Sunday, though that may expand depending on demand from crowds and from vendors. The couple said, “We like beer, food, good music, bikes and dogs.” This seemed like a good way to combine all of the above.

As Alden’s MA might make you suspect, there will be an emphasis on environmentally sustainable practices like recycling. There may eventually be a native planting garden and encouragement to discontinue use of Styrofoam.

Central Filling Station, 900 North Central Street, Knoxville, October 2017

They also said everyone they’ve worked with from city government has been very helpful to get a different kind of project off the ground. They particularly mentioned Patricia Robledo and said having such easy access to local government officials who can make things happen is unique. They feel the Recode Knoxville effort had already paved the way because the consultants had mentioned this type of enterprise specifically.

Construction was set to have begun before you read this and they hope to have the park open and running early next year. Check out their Facebook Page (and give them a “like”) and their webpage for updates.

Comments

  1. Kathy Sharp says:

    Good luck to you both!! We will Definitely give it a go!! God Bless

  2. The Modern Gal says:

    I’m so excited this is coming to my neighborhood, but what I love even more is that Knoxville attracted Alden and Scott without them having prior connections to the city. This city is pretty cool, and people are starting to notice.

  3. LIKE

  4. We visited San Antonio a couple of years ago. There’s a place near one of their museums called The Luxury, which is an outdoor space with shipping containers for ordering/service, food prep, bar, and bathrooms. It has picnic tables, military shade netting, string lights, Adirondack chairs, misters, a couple of bocce courts, and a couple of other cool features. When you ordered your food, you got a large plastic dinosaur to put on your table instead of a number; they knew where to bring the food. Not exactly the same concept, but similar in terms of the customer experience. We loved it, and it was August in San Antonio, so that’s saying something!

  5. Denise Brewer says:

    This will be AWESOME! We food truck/trailer owners are very excited!

  6. The city needs to extend the Free Trolley to Happy Holler to provide a logical link betw. Old City/Gay St/Market Square/UT

  7. This is wonderful. Best of luck in your exciting new venture! I’m excited to be a future patron.

  8. Wish I’d thought of that! Wish them all the best.

  9. I drive past this lot quite often, and have thought something big was going to happen here. I am excited about this, however I have some big concerns. Forgive me if I missed it, but they are planning to make the lot look somewhat nicer, correct? That rusty fence has got to go, and I would hope they would be adding some scenic landscaping as well. Did they mention any plans to fix up the lot?

  10. If the gas pumps are their, are the old storage tanks still in the ground? I’m curious. Thank you.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      As far as I understand it, yes. This would make a different kind of use more difficult, I suspect.

      • Thanks. Others would know better but that’s my understanding too. I fact, my understanding is that essentially no sane developer’s going to want to touch that to put something on it.

        If there are still old fuel tanks in the ground there and given the risks those tanks pose, it raises the question if it’s in the city, county and state’s interest to chip in and help remove them But that’s a whole other issue from having some empty space on Central.

        What are Knoxville’s liquor laws like? There is will and will soon be a 2nd brewery right by that location. Could people get a pint to go in a giant orange solo cup and walk the block over to the food trucks to get a bite?

  11. A friend and I discussed this concept several years ago … I am so happy that the time has come! Good luck and we will see you there!!

  12. In that last photo you can see our building, Renaissance Terrace Assisted Living, in the back left. We are excited to have new food options so close!

  13. I think this is a great concept, and look forward to seeing and visiting it when it is ready.

  14. Alden and Scott are two of the nicest humans I have had the pleasure to meet in Knoxville over the years! I look forward to watching them succeed and help our community grow! Get out and support them when you can!

  15. The monthly food truck gatherings at the Southern Railway station draw big crowds, but they don’t have plug-ins so the generator noise and fumes are sub-optimal. I’m glad this new site will have plugs.

  16. Great idea and good use of that old lot. I hope it works well in that location but it’s not exactly downtown like the one in Portland.

  17. Kristi Gordon says:

    Perfect use for this site! Great idea.

  18. Bonny Pendleton says:

    I loved the food truck parks in Portland, Ore. Diversity of food choices in one spot. Good luck with venture. I think it’s time has come in Knoxville.

  19. My daughter, born and raised here, is in Austin for a year. One of her first dates took her to the food trucks spot. She loved it. Knoxville will love it.

  20. John Lyle says:

    We finally found it didn’t we?
    It was a pleasure working with you both and we wish you all the best!
    John and Leslie
    Coldwell Banker Commercial Wallace & Wallace, Realtors

  21. Bill Henry says:

    What a great idea!

  22. Cool, Have known Alden and Scott since soon after they moved here. Nice folks and I wish them much success. We will definitely be going there on a regular basis.

  23. This is going to be awesome!

  24. I’ve thought for years that Knoxville could use a food truck park modeled after those in Austin and Portland. It’s a great addition to the neighborhood.

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