Durham food truck hub County Fare is now for sale, and its future looks uncertain

County Fare opened last April in Durham as a bar and hub for the Triangle’s food trucks. Currently, it is closed while its owners look for a buyer.
County Fare opened last April in Durham as a bar and hub for the Triangle’s food trucks. Currently, it is closed while its owners look for a buyer.

After less than a year in business, the weekly food truck rodeo County Fare is closed indefinitely. County Fare closed at the end of last year for winter break, and its four-person ownership group say the project is now for sale.

County Fare opened in Durham’s Lakewood neighborhood last April as a hub for the Triangle’s popular food truck scene. Much anticipated before it opened and busy through the summer, spring and fall, food trucks were scheduled to park outside the barn-shaped bar and sell food, similar to the vibe outside local breweries.

Inside a rural-looking fence, there were yard games and picnic tables. Inside, there wass a bar with two dozen taps, plenty of seating and restrooms. On the weekends, County Fare also made its own food for dinner, with a menu built around the county fair, serving fried favorites and sandwiches.

The County Fare website says the space is “currently closed,” and its calendar says it hasn’t hosted a food truck in more than a month.

County Fare is owned by four partners, Steve Frasher, twins Richard and Peter Savarino and Gil Scharf. Reached by phone, Richard Savarino said County Fare had had an “unbelievably successful” first year, but that the ownership group is in the process of selling it.

In an email, Steve Frasher said County Fare’s management and operations staff had quit at the end of the year and that the owners, having limited experience in the restaurant industry, closed while weighing the next move.

“Our location and venue are prime and the Lakewood neighborhood, and its developing Lakewood commercial community, is an amazing and exciting place to be in Durham,” Frasher said in an email. “We had an extremely successful opening year and whatever course is taken we are confident that the venue will be active again relatively soon.”

With a business built around area food trucks, whose food is almost always served outdoors, a winter break didn’t seem unreasonable. County Fare hosted trucks through the weekend before Christmas, but then closed for that winter break.

But an email sent out to food trucks on Dec. 27 suggests the decision to suspend bookings indefinitely wasn’t planned.

“I am writing to let you know that County Fare has recently and abruptly experienced a change in our management,” the email read. “We are woroking (sic) hard to figure things out and get back on track in the New Year.”

After that County Fare went into its winter break phase, which included the last week of December, all of January and according to its booking calendar, all of February.

The ownership group also owns the land on which County Fare sits, a corner of the Lakewood Shopping Center, up against Chapel Hill Road. County Far seemed to be part of Lakewood’s rapid redevelopment, which has included local coffee shop Cocoa Cinnamon’s third cafe and the now-closed Scratch and Lakewood restaurants, which will be replaced by a new location of True Flavors Diner.

The Lakewood Shopping Center itself is poised for a significant redevelopment at the hands of new owner BrodyCo, a Greensboro company that bought a large swath of the shopping center last year for $5.2 million in a foreclosure sale. Company owner HJ Brody said he had not had any discussions about buying County Fare.

“(The property) is not on our radar screen right now,” Brody said in a phone interview. “We would, of course, look to see if it made sense long term as well as if it was economically viable. But at this point, it is not on our radar screen and we obviously always take a hard look at things around us. But it is not critical a piece for us.”

Business reporter Zachary Eanes contributed to this story.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.