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Latest plan for the 'Pit of Despair': Food truck central

On Tuesday, Asheville City Council just approved a pilot program for operating food trucks in downtown's former "Pit of Despair" near the U.S. Cellular Center and the St. Lawrence Basilica at 68 Haywood Street. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

On Tuesday, Asheville City Council just approved a plan that's all about food.

It's a pilot program for operating food trucks in downtown's former "Pit of Despair" near the U.S. Cellular Center and the St. Lawrence Basilica at 68 Haywood Street.

The plan is to take this long-disputed piece of property out of mothballs for a year, to see if food trucks might be a good fit.

Many people who venture to this end of downtown want to check out the historic basilica. But people who make their living in the food business give the idea mixed reviews.

Roman Braverman of Roman's Deli and Catering been doing business by the Pit for more than eight years.

"I probably won't be looking out the window, to tell you the truth," he said. He says much of his clientele are downtown regulars, and he also makes lots of deliveries for a lunchtime crowd that stays in the office.

The mobile food truck pilot program would allow trucks to come in daily, on a first-come, first-served basis.

All vendors would be permitted, and must follow the same health and safety guidelines as restaurants, but can serve no alcohol. And if a group takes out a permit for an event at 68 Haywood, there would be no food trucks allowed.

Mobile merchants like Bun Intended Thai food do most of their business at breweries like New Belgium, would like a little change, and don't believe they'll harm brick-and-mortar restaurants like Roman's.

"As long as we're not like selling the same food, I don't think it matters. I mean, we're a unique niche with our Thai street food, so I think that works out great," said Bun Intended's Matt Rhoades.

But, "If you're standing here looking at my menu, and you have something across the street, you're gonna go check it out," counters Braverman.

He said he understands if there's something over there that attracts the taste buds elsewhere, that he could lose a few customers.

"I'm sure it will affect us in some way, but hopefully not drastically enough that we will feel it."

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