Charcoal Alley: East Texas' first food truck park to open Friday - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Charcoal Alley: East Texas' first food truck park to open Friday

The remains of the two buildings would be torn down due to damage (Source: KLTV staff) The remains of the two buildings would be torn down due to damage (Source: KLTV staff)
Charcoal Alley, East Texas' first mobile food truck park, set to open on Friday (Source: KLTV staff) Charcoal Alley, East Texas' first mobile food truck park, set to open on Friday (Source: KLTV staff)
Emily Griffin's studio in Jacksonville was heavily damaged after fire tore through Yum Yum's in April 2013 (Source: KLTV staff) Emily Griffin's studio in Jacksonville was heavily damaged after fire tore through Yum Yum's in April 2013 (Source: KLTV staff)
JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) -

Charcoal Alley, East Texas' first mobile food truck park is opening Friday in Jacksonville, an idea which grew from the remains of a woman's dream career.

Emily Griffin, of Jacksonville, owned the Snaps Photography studio next to the old Yum Yum's restaurant in downtown Jacksonville. Griffin says on April 28, 2013, she received a message saying her studio was on fire. While the initial fire started in the catering business next door, the fire quickly spread to areas near Griffin's business and caused heavy smoke and water damage.

Despite firefighters efforts to contain the flames, the damage had already been done.

"I sat on the concrete all night with friends, family, and the rest of an unbelievably supportive community," Griffin says.

In the days after the fire, the city would determine the brick walls left standing were unsafe, and the building would need to be torn down.

"The cleanup battle wasn't an easy one, but I obviously needed that time for a plan," Griffin says. "I was determined to turn this burnt, crumbled, disaster back into something optimistic."

Griffin says she gave it a great amount of thought, how "burn" and "positive" could exist in the same sentence. But her mother-in-law planted a seed of an idea in her head, and it grew every day. That's where the original idea of Charcoal Alley came to be.

"Charcoal is burned, and charcoal makes people happy," Griffin says. "Not to mention it's already embedded in my family history with my grandfather's Campfire Charcoal plant that was right here in Jacksonville."

The several months of planning and building would lead to an announcement in Summer 2015 of a mobile food truck park in the works, a first for the East Texas area.

Griffin says the new park will give visitors a unique experience. 

"This is just actually creating more of an outdoor restaurant with covered seating tables chairs restrooms which they are not allowed on the side of the highways. So that's the benefit of having a park here," she says. 

Charcoal Alley is expecting a busy opening night. Jacksonville High School classes of 1974, '75, and '76 are holding a multi-class reunion in the park, which coincides with the city's homecoming; a convenience for anyone looking for a bite to eat just down the road from the historic Tomato Bowl stadium.

"We will have 4 trucks here to start with we have all different menus with different types of food," she says. 

Chester Kruse, who owns Curbside Taco, one of the four trucks that will be in the park of Friday, says this park is going to make a big difference for his business. 

"This is something that I've been looking forward to for the past year and a half. Having a place to go every day definitely helps out," he said. 

And he says being downtown will be a big plus. 

"The downtown locations tend to be real good for food truck parks across the nation," he says. 

"Be watching as it develops," Griffin wrote in her summer announcement. "We're looking for the best of the best food trucks and trailers for our park. Help me turn this rubble into something wonderful. Coming soon... Charcoal Alley."

And hopefully, an exciting start for an East Texas woman looking to build a new dream from the ashes of the last. 

If you are interested in bringing a truck to the park, you can contact Griffin through the park's Facebook page. 

Copyright 2015 KLTV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly