COEUR d’ALENE — Where others see a vacant field, four North Idaho businesspeople see the future scene of local cuisine.
"I think businesses and the consumers are going to love this," said Nate Nagel, who owns Premier Auction Center in Post Falls with wife Kym.
"We kind of had it as just a thought," he said Wednesday. "As we shared it with friends and family and pro-business people we deal with at the auction, everybody had a positive response to it."
The vacant 1.75-acre lot at the edge of Coeur d'Alene city limits and the southwest corner of Prairie Avenue and Heartland Drive will soon be the site of a food truck court dubbed the "Prairie Pavilion."
The Nagels and business partners Laura and Jason Quast, who own the Jitterz Espresso franchise, are developing a grub hub that will include 13 different food vendors, a Jitterz coffee stand, 39 parking spots, a 44-by-12-foot covered eating pavilion with seating and an ADA-accessible bathroom.
The vendor locations will include water, sewer, grease hook-ups, garbage and recycling.
"I didn’t realize food trucks were as big a deal," Nate said. "I know they are in bigger cities, but the response has been crazy. Our area’s ready for it, for sure. Just the variety of choices is going to be pretty awesome."
The Nagels reported that seven food vendors have so far committed to participating in the Prairie Pavilion, including Taco Works and Las Brasas Mexican Grill. Kym said the others who have signed on are not ready to go public, but will be announced in the near future.
"Half of them are somewhere, and about half of them are brand new, so we haven’t even seen them yet," Kym said.
"I’m excited about showcasing some of the talent that we have for our cooks and our chefs in this town," Jason said. "These people put their heart and soul into what they do with these trucks. For them to be able to put it out there to the public is awesome and for us to help them to be successful is just a benefit for us."
The 7777 Heartland Drive property, appraised in July for a total market value of $249,596 according to the Kootenai County Assessor's website, is primed to be not only a food place, but a community space.
The owners envision it to be a happening spot where busy businesspeople can swing through for a quick bite, as well as a welcoming environment where everyone can enjoy a relaxing meal.
They're hoping to incorporate community events, like live music, pop-up shows and farmers markets, to expand the Pavilion's appeal.
"We have all kinds of ideas we're kicking around,” Kym said. "Once we get all 13 spots nailed down, we want to have a big group meeting and we want to hear everybody’s ideas flowing, especially before we break ground."
Plans for the Pavilion began about 9 months ago when the Quasts went to Premier Auction and met the Nagels.
"We got to talking and all of a sudden they put a Jitterz on our property in Post Falls, so one thing led to another from that," Kym said.
"Jitterz is very well-followed in the area. They’re expanding like wildfire, so we’re just looking for properties for them to go to," Nate said. "This was a little bit larger than what they need, so we decided to find a use for the rest of the property."
Nate said the Pavilion's engineer followed all the new guidelines put in place because of the Best Avenue food truck court, so they were given the go-ahead for the site plan in October when they received all the proper permits and completed the necessary paperwork.
"The ordinances are growing with the demand,” Kym said.
Jitterz announced the partnership with Premier Auction Center to create the Prairie Pavilion in a social media post on Sunday that has been shared more than 140 times and has garnered more than 100 positive comments from many locals.
"We’re super excited. We’ve been excited from the very beginning," Laura said. "We just think it's going to be something that Coeur d'Alene hasn't really seen yet."
A few vendor positions are still available. Laura said they are hoping to include beer growler vendors and pizza by the slice.
Kym said the Prairie Pavilion should break ground in the next few weeks and open in the spring.