New food park, artisan hub coming to empty downtown space

Published 11:05 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A long empty corner in downtown Elizabethton will become a lively social spot every Thursday evening, starting May 12.
Chasity Thompson, founder of the Evenings on Elk events, along with property owners Hannon Howard, of Mills Greenhouse, and Terry Steines, will be launching a social street food park and artisan hub on the corner at 420 East E St.
The former location of Elizabethton’s old bus station (across from the old Carter County Motors building) will host 4-6 food trucks, artisans, face painters, musicians and more on any given Thursday from 3-8 p.m. beginning May 12 and continuing through October 27.

The corner may look a little forlorn right now, Thompson says, but there are some wonderful plans for the space.
“We are hoping to make the area more upscale, with time, much like a Charleston, SC market bringing crafts vendors, artists, sauces and spices, plants and farmers with their produce together for this Open Air Market – Truck and Trade,” Thompson said.
“We are also planning to add in local musicians with different activities and themes, much like Evenings on Elk,” she added.

All of the changes planned for the space will take time, and Thompson encourages the community to be patient.
“It will take a while to restore and revitalize the area, but if people support us, we will have money coming in from vendor space rentals and the food trucks who will pay fees to set up every Thursday.
“If the community comes out and takes advantage of it, we can use that money for improvements to the space. We will work and wait and make sure we get it right.”

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Thompson would also welcome investors and will be seeking grants to jumpstart the project.
The first step will be to level the lot. Later she hopes to add a stage for musicians, restrooms, a small office space and even further in the future, a pavilion.
The look of the area would be a nod to the past, with the nostalgia of the old bus station that once stood there as inspiration for signage and structure design — a “Magnolia” vibe, with clean and simple lines, with ideas incorporated from the old to create a whole new identity.

But for the present, Thompson is now hard at work spreading the word about the opening event and building enthusiasm in the community.
“We want people to know there will be more dining options downtown on Thursday evenings with everything, on any given evening, from Cuban to tacos, from Cajun to pizza.”
And if all goes well, who knows how it will all turn out.

“The space could become a permanent food truck park, similar to the Central Filling Station in Knoxville — the first of its kind in the area — or if the food truck owners have a good outcome, they may look for a permanent spot in Elizabethton,” Thompson said.
“But for right now, we are focused on using this space to bring people together for a wonderful social event where families can spend time with each other, share a meal and their kids can enjoy special activities,” Thompson said. “It is all about community.”
Those interested can follow Evenings On Elk Open Air Market – Truck and Trade page on Facebook. For vendor information and applications, email Thompson at project2move@gmail.com.