Franklin Food Court is almost in session.
Dave McCasland, who is leasing the city land commonly known as Gunakadeit Park or Pocket Park, said a handful of vendors are expected to soon be selling their wares —possibly as early as early next week.
“I can’t really give you an exact date, because there are factors beyond my control,” McCasland said. “I wasn’t given all that much time to set up, it’s a lot of work.”
So far, McCasland said he’s installed sewer, water and power for the planned open-air food court, done dirt work and have everyone move their “shacks” in. Franklin Food Court will serve as a replacement location for a handful of food trucks and vendors that were previously located in the Archipelago Lot and were displaced by a project to develop the area near the downtown public library.
McCasland declined to say how much it cost to do that work.
The lease with the city is for one year at the rate of $3,250 May through September and for $1,000 for the remaining months of the year.
McCasland said his business, Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos will probably be the first to open, and it will be joined by Coppa, Alaskan Crepe Escape, Glacier Smoothie Soaps, El Agave and possibly Smiley’s Old Fashioned Kettle Corn.
Getting this close to opening hasn’t been an entirely pleasant experience, McCasland said.
He said he’s had belongings stolen twice while doing work to ready the site, and has been underwhelmed by the timeliness of the the state’s Alcohol & Marijuana Control office.
While McCasland said the City and Borough of Juneau has been helpful throughout his effort at creating an open-air food court, he said the state board has been slow in reviewing documents he submits and dragged out the process that would allow him to sell beer to go along with tacos.
“I can get open without beer and wine, but I wouldn’t have done this project,” McCasland said. “It’s not about the alcohol sales. It’s about giving people what they want and having people enjoy a meal give them something to wash it down with.”
He said he will sell Alaska Probiotics Kombucha until he can sell alcohol, and he will open for business no matter what.
However, how this first year goes will decide whether McCasland would have interest in renewing his lease and ushering in a second year of the food court.
“We’ll see how it all entails. If I don’t get the license, I will not do it again next year,” McCasland said. “I have more important things to do than waste all of this money. I could’ve bought a house. I could’ve done things for my life.”
While getting within sight of the finish line has left a lot to be desired, McCasland said he is at least happy with how the food court area looks.
“I think it’s looking really nice, and it could be a really cool area,” McCasland said.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.