Passing through the Lakewood in Durham, once you see the big red barn in the Shoppes at Lakewood parking lot, you’ve found County Fare, the new year-round food truck rodeo that is expected to open in a little more than a month.
But since the project was announced last June, the concept and the personnel behind it have evolved.
The general concept remains: Imagine a saloon with a handful of food trucks hitching themselves to the post each day. Each night, it’ll be a landing pad for a few local food trucks, offering some of the amenities the mobile kitchens sometimes do without. Instead of sidewalk seating (or strolling), there will be tables inside and out with seating for up to 200. County Fare also will handle the bathrooms and bar.
But now County Fare has plans to serve food of its own, offering a menu straight out of, well, the fair. Think fried Twinkies, hot dogs, grilled sausage and peppers.
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Owner Steve Frasher said adding the food would give diners a consistent food option up until closing, or when the food trucks pull out and go home for the night.
County Fare will have 30 draft taps, mostly for beer, but also pouring cider and wine options. There will be wines by the bottle and a few canned and bottle beers as well. Frozen drinks won’t be part of the plan initially, but could also be on the way.
Frasher said County Fare is going for a backyard grilling vibe. There will be a rotating schedule of around 50 food trucks, with at least three or four parked nightly.
“This is a really great atmosphere,” Frasher said. “It’s not white table cloth dining. It’s very convenient, very casual. People are able to go at their own pace.”
In trying to build a dining destination in Lakewood, Frasher said County Fare calls back to a time when the neighborhood was a popular stop on Durham’s trolley system, with a park featuring a dance hall and roller coaster. An open house will be held March 13 for food truck owners looking to check out the site.
Frasher is collaborating with business partner Gil Scharf, Peter Savarino and Richard Savarino on the project. Mattie Beason, one of County Fare’s initial organizers, is no longer connected with it.
Beason brought the food and beverage experience, owning two restaurants of his own: Black Twig Cider House and Mattie B’s Public House in Durham. Beason said he left the project in February, calling it an amicable split driven by creative differences.
“It became clear to me that I wanted to be doing something different,” Beason said.
Frasher said he and Beason remain friends and that the split was not contentious.
“Mattie’s the cider man in the Southeast, he has two other restaurants,” Frasher said. “As our idea took off and grew into a bigger business, he was not going to have enough time for another restaurant.”
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson