Restaurant News & Reviews

Imagine a mini-food truck rodeo every day. That will be County Fare

County Fare, to be built at 1920 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, is envisioned as a daily food truck rodeo with at least four food trucks parked next to a barn that seats 150 people inside and another 200 outside. Diners can bring their food truck meals inside for beer, wine and cider, along with some kid-friendly snacks.
County Fare, to be built at 1920 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, is envisioned as a daily food truck rodeo with at least four food trucks parked next to a barn that seats 150 people inside and another 200 outside. Diners can bring their food truck meals inside for beer, wine and cider, along with some kid-friendly snacks. CONTRIBUTED

With food trucks flocking to office parks and breweries on a daily basis and large-scale food truck rodeos year-round, the Triangle food truck scene shows no signs of slowing down.

That means now is just the moment to improve upon the Triangle’s food truck model, says Mattie Beason, who owns Mattie B’s Public House and Black Twig Cider House in Durham.

He and his business partners hope County Fare is the next step.

County Fare, to be built at 1920 Chapel Hill Road, is envisioned as a daily food truck rodeo with four food trucks parked next to a barn that seats 150 people inside and another 200 outside. Diners can bring their food truck fare inside for beer, wine and cider, along with some kid-friendly snacks cooked in the County Fare kitchen.

“We want to showcase the food trucks and all their amazing food,” Beason said. “We want people to access them on a semi-regular basis.”

He is collaborating with Steve Frasher, a Durham general contractor, and business partner Gil Scharf, to make County Fare a reality in the Lakewood neighborhood that’s seeing a resurgence.

It will be built on a vacant space at the intersection of West Lakewood Avenue where a credit union once stood. If everything goes according to plan, Beason said he hopes it could be done by mid-fall, or by the end of the year.

Frasher approached Beason with the idea two years ago after visiting the Truck Yard in Dallas, which has a daily lineup of food trucks every day of the month. It also has a beer garden with live music on weekends.

“It’s essentially a mini-food truck rodeo on an every-day basis,” Beason said. “He said, ‘I love this idea. What do you think of this?’ 

The next day, Beason told Frasher he was in. They visited similar locations to find a model for County Fare. They also sought out locations.

To make it work, they needed enough space for at least four trucks with the possibility to add a few more. They needed a roundabout to make it happen, plus land to install the barn-like structure that is being built for the site.

“For us, we wanted to have these food trucks to not only go in August, but also in February,” he said. “A place where people can access that.”

While he enjoys food truck rodeos, he said there can be a downside to them. There’s not as much seating, and alcohol options are limited to the few brewers who can bring enough beer with them.

The County Fare bar will have 30 taps and a “bottoms up” system, which fills beer from the bottom of the glass and gives a more exact pour.

Mattie Beason
Mattie Beason owns Mattie B’s Public House and Black Twig Cider House in Durham.

As for the food trucks, Beason said he considers himself a curator of his mobile food court. He sits on the advisory board for the RDU Mobile Food Association, where he is acquainted with many of the Triangle’s trucks, and plans to solicit applications.

But he says the lineup could be “somewhat subjective” and flavor-based in order to have varied food genres on any given night. He pictures a night where a diner might find dumplings, sandwiches, burgers and barbecue.

“You have a diverse group of options for different people,” he said. “Chances are, you’ll find something you want.”

Food trucks will benefit because they’ll have a steady gig. Diners will know in advance what trucks – maybe their favorites – will be on site. With the amount of seating available, Beason said it also will be good for large groups, who can reserve a cordoned-off area.

The name is a playful nod to the amusement park that once stood at the site of the Lakewood Shopping Center in the early 1900s. As a Durham native, he’s excited to see the area undergo a transformation. He remembers eating doughnut holes from Davis Baking Co. down Chapel Hill Road, a building that now houses the recently opened restaurant, The Lakewood, from Scratch Bakery’s Phoebe Lawless.

County Fare is next to the Shoppes at Lakewood, where the future Durham Food Hall will be located. It’s also across the street from the future Cocoa Cinnamon’s third retail location and roastery.

“I feel that area is going to change very rapidly,” he said. “I’m excited about this little area. It will be a new little pocket of entertainment.”

Info: 1920 Chapel Hill Road, Durham. countyfaredurham.com, Twitter and Instagram: @countyfaredur.

Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831, @JessicaBanov

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