If you have happened to pass by the corner of Nevada and Platte, you may have noticed an amalgam of trucks in an empty lot that was formerly a gas station. In a spot that was once almost turned into parking for the YMCA, now stands a micro-community of unique food trucks serving the Colorado Springs community six days a week.
Just three months into operation, the food truck lot has amassed a wide variety of vendors. On any given day, one might choose between a Kimchi Quesadilla from The Local—a truck committed to creating dishes from natural, seasonal, and local ingredients—to some Jambalaya from the Creole Kitchen. There are ten trucks that operate in the lot and are open at various hours throughout the week.
“Right now we are still in the experimental phase,” said Connor Hibbs, who works at the Crepe Crusader truck, which was the first truck on the scene. The truck had been frequenting festivals and seasonal events in the Colorado Springs area, and made the leap to a more permanent spot when they recognized the value in the unused space across from Acacia Park.
Although the YMCA almost swooped in to convert the space, Forrest Keller, one of the founders of the Crepe Crusaders truck, says the vendors were persistent.
“We persuaded them to keep [the abandoned lot] so that we could have food trucks here,” Keller said. Once the Crepe Crusaders claimed the space as a domain for portable restaurants, other food trucks were eager to share the space. Some were happy to have a consistent place to vend, while others were inspired to start up their own food trucks from the concept.
While today you will see a plethora of vendors, it wasn’t always so robust. “The hardest part was just figuring it out. We were the first ones, so we were essentially the guinea pigs. We had to figure out the water situation, the grey tank, our electricity; for about the first month and a half it was difficult, but it’s getting better,” said Keller.
Even with these challenges, this hub for small businesses has proven to be an incubator for the Colorado Springs food scene, as trucks are one of the cheapest ways to dive into the business. “I feel like more people are gonna see this and be like ‘Ok, now we should start,’” said Keller, regarding the lot as inspiration for Colorado Springs entrepreneurs to sprout their own ideas.
In addition, local customers are excited by the concept and the new potential it has for the area. The Carl’s Jr. across the street is an ever-present reminder of the lot’s competition: cheap, fast food restaurants that are ubiquitous in Colorado Springs. Although these ten food trucks cannot compete with such powerhouses, it is clear that these small businesses have potential to change the way locals eat.
The lot embodies a movement towards inventive and locally owned eateries. “Over the past few years, I’ve noticed this city starting to move towards less ‘chainey’ kind of restaurants,” said Hibbs, who grew up in the area.
The food truck lot has faced its fair share of challenges in its first months of operation, but its success is growing every day. As more people learn about it, this old gas station will prove to be a hub for entrepreneurial growth and a refreshing new dining option for the people of Colorado Springs.