Food truck makes move from walk-up to sit-down service

(Kenny Goodman)

Lady’s Chicken and Rice is the latest food truck to make the jump from mobile vendor to stationary establishment

VISALIA – Another Visalia food truck is test-driving the idea of converting their mobile business to a more stationary one.

Lady’s Chicken and Rice, a food truck serving up spicy Laotian dishes, is proposing to build a 1,597 square foot restaurant with a drive-thru lane on the southeast corner of the roundabout at Houston Avenue and Santa Fe Street. Their menu includes quick takes on ethnic dishes such as spicy chicken with sticky rice, egg rolls and spring rolls.

The project was filed with the city of Visalia by Andrew Goodwin Designs. It is slated for discussion at the June 26 meeting of the Visalia Planning Commission.

The eatery established quite a following even before announcing its newly designed food truck earlier this year in a Jan. 6 post. “Check out our new Food Truck! We only have one location for now!! Our hours are 10am till 5pm or sold out; Monday to Saturday. Hope to see you there! Thank you to our valued friends who come support us and for making this happen!! We love you guys — at Lady’s Chicken and Rice.”

Currently, the food truck can be found in the parking lot of Rick’s Vending, 9400 W Placer Ave. in Visalia. For more information on Lady’s Chicken and Rice, call 559-679-4546 or send an email to [email protected].

Lady’s is just the latest food truck to consider the jump from mobile eatery to stationary establishment. Tacos Galacticos, which has several food trucks under its banner, has made a home base just down the street at 1223 E. Houston Ave. for many years. Que Concha, which offers a modern twist on traditional Mexican desserts and coffees, has been operating their food truck for over five years but opened its first location at 116 S. Locust St. in downtown Visalia last October.

Two other food trucks are planning to make the leap indoors sometime in the next year. After four years of serving up coffee all around Visalia, Bombshell Beans plans to be part of “The Mix”, a craft cafeteria concept being cooked up as part of the renovations to the 213-217 W. Main St. in downtown Visalia. They will be joined by Scoops ice cream, a food cart that built up its popularity and local festivals and events over the last five years.

Downtown to hit the links

Also on the agenda for the June 26 planning commission meeting is a request by Supreme Construction, Inc. to convert the former Main Street Theater into an indoor virtual golf club.

The 8,500 square foot venue would be named Mulligans, the golf term for a do-over, and include a virtual simulator, restaurant and bar. The virtual golf club was first announced by The Sun-Gazette in February following its Site Plan Review with the city.

Shane Moss, who is leading a Tulare development group along with Scott Wright, said they are still working on details but hope it could open by the end of this year.

The theater, 307 W. Main St., was home to the Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Co. for 27 years before the city decided to sell it in 2018. News of the city council’s decision to sell the property prompted a seventh-month discussion as members of the community theater group and its many supporters raised concerns about the loss of the venue as an affordable art program for local children as well as affordable entertainment for local schools and families. The group now splits its productions between the Visalia Fox Theatre and Valley Strong Ballpark.

Ultimately, the council approved the sale of the building to developer and farmer JR Shannon for $515,000 in November 2018. Shannon originally proposed to use the building for a large concept restaurant and later discussed splitting the building between commercial and residential tenants. Last April, Kaweah Health said it was one of the building’s it was considering purchasing in downtown to convert to residential units to accommodate its physician residents and visiting medical students within walking distance from the hospital.

In keeping with the request for proposal issued by the city, Shannon stated that the building’s front façade and Main Street Theater signage would remain and even be repaired. He also expressed interest in keeping the ticket sales window of the theater for some sort of use by the tenant. A recent illustration shared as part of the Site Plan Review showed the ticket window and marquee as fixtures of the proposed golf venue.

City gov’t expands footprint

Eastern downtown has been a hotbed of activity ever since the city of Visalia announced plans to redevelop the area into a new civic center complex in 2019. The city council has already approved adding a new public safety administration building, evidence storage and crime lab as well as a new, larger council chambers to the 33-acre block of land at the intersection of Burke Street and School Avenue.

Now the city is in negotiations to buy another 6 acres on the east side of Ben Maddox at Center Street. If purchased, the land, currently home of Visalia Lumber Co., would allow the city to expand its multi-parcel corporation yard further south.

The matter was a closed session item on the city council’s June 19 agenda but no action was taken on the item.

More rooms

Marriott, which has operated a hotel downtown for many years, is now eying a second hotel property on the city’s west side. Plans for a four-story Marriott hotel on Cypress Avenue just off Akers Street have been submitted to the city. The new hotel proposes 101 rooms and would be a significant addition to the area behind Adventure Park. There are currently two other hotels already on this block including Holiday Inn Express and La Quinta Inn & Suites.

Visalia isn’t the only city getting a new hotel. In Tulare, a five-story, 138-room Hilton Garden Inn is being proposed on M Street next to the Tulare Bethel Church on the east side of Highway 99. Garden Inns are a more relaxed and less formal version of a traditional Hilton hotel.

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