Food truck trend gains momentum in Fayetteville

Photo: Dustin Bartholomew
Silver Stream Cafe, Grey Dog Vintage Boutique, and the soon-to-be Wheels Cafe sit in the parking lot at College and Trenton Avenues in Fayetteville.

Slowly, steadily, silver-ly, there appears to be a business-on-wheels culture taking shape in Fayetteville.

An idea that began with last year’s opening of Grey Dog Vintage Boutique in an Airstream trailer looks to be picking up steam lately with the appearance of two mobile restaurants in the same parking lot located at the corner of College and Trenton Avenues.

Silver Stream Cafe opened Friday, Nov. 4, and another restaurant-equipped trailer is now parked just a few feet away.

Molly Clark, owner of Grey Dog Vintage Boutique told us that the second trailer will be home to a restaurant called Wheels Cafe.

Earlier this year, Hammontree’s Star-Wars-themed Grillenium Falcon grilled cheese truck made its debut in town. Fayetteville-based restaurant Greenhouse Grille also has a food truck that has been operating on the Bentonville square.

Add all that up, and it appears as though there’s a bit of a food truck revolution brewing in town.

Cities like Portland, Austin, Nashville, and Raleigh have embraced the food cart trend, and it seems to be paying off. Recent reports indicate that over 600 carts and trailers are currently doing business in the Portland area.

Local architect Robert Sharp, who owns the lot, said he thinks the business-on-wheels concept will do wonders to foster what he calls “incremental sprawl repair” for the area.

“One thing that has come up when we talk about how to rejuvenate an area like College Avenue is food carts,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that they can really bring life to an area, and it builds on itself.”

Neil Heller, an urban planner who also runs the Fayetteville Food Carts Facebook page also has an interest in “low-cost, low risk ways that people can incrementally transform worn out, auto-centric environments,” as he called them.

Heller said that he is currently working with Fayetteville Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty on an ordinance that, if passed, would help to make Fayetteville more food-cart friendly.

“The big thing is the 90-day limit,” Heller said, referring to an ordinance that limits the amount of time a food truck can operate in a specific location. “We’re pushing for these businesses to be able to stay in a place indefinitely if it’s working for them.”

Clark, who was able to secure a conditional use permit for Grey Dog to stay in the lot beyond 90 days, said that three trailers in the current lot will probably be the limit for now due to space constraints.

Heller, however, told us he’s already secured space and is looking for vendors to fill a second lot in the Mill District in an effort to build on what’s already happening on College Avenue.