Route 123 paves the road for more food trucks in Berkeley

People enjoy food at the food truck market Off the Grid at North Berkeley BART station in 2016.
Francesca Ledesma/File
People enjoy food at the food truck market Off the Grid at North Berkeley BART station in 2016.

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Developer NX Ventures is paving the road for more food truck options in Berkeley with its plan to create a venue for trucks to congregate on 2613 San Pablo Ave.

Set to be finished by fall 2018, the food truck venue will be called “Route 123” after the official name of the state road San Pablo Avenue. According to Xin Jin, a principal at NX Ventures who will co-manage the project, some potential food options available at the venue include barbecue, tacos, Filipino fusion and pizza.

The food truck marketplace will take the place of KC’s Bar-B-Que. According to Kristen Davis, the owner of KC’s Bar-B-Que, the shop closed down because of a fire on Feb. 17, 2017, which burned and severely damaged much of the restaurant.

“We’re going to repurpose KC’s Bar-B-Que building as an events center so you can have birthday parties for kids and space (to eat) for (the) rainy season and food trucks along the perimeter of the lot behind it,” said Nathan George, the other principal in NX Ventures who will co-manage the project.

Jin and George, who are both UC Berkeley alumni, first worked together on a project not involved with real estate, creating Gio’s Pizza and Bocce, according to George. According to Jin, many of the skills he learned as a student have come in handy in his career.

“One thing Cal taught me how to do is how to learn on my own and how to survive in a tough, competitive environment,” said Jin, who graduated in 1992 with a degree in computer science. “I did tech for about 10 years. … I actually did construction. I was a demo contractor for six years and I moved into general investing and business ventures.”

Davis said KC’s Bar-B-Que will move to 1235 San Pablo Ave., which is currently a restaurant called Meal Ticket, and will be ready for business in mid-April. Davis added that she is very excited for the food truck business to open.

“I am extremely excited for that type of thing to be moving into the area, just because we don’t have anything like that around here, and we hope to actually be one of the food vendors there also,” Davis said.

Brad Lebowitz, who works at Far Leaves Tea on San Pablo Avenue, is also looking forward to the food truck marketplace and thinks the increase in foot traffic will help business.

“We have been in this location for about seven years and I’ve been here that whole time and I’ve watched a lot of change along that block,” Lebowitz said. “This area is gentrifying, of course, and service-oriented businesses are moving out like … car repair places, and more community-oriented places are moving in.”

Contact Sabrina Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Sabrina_Dong_.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article misspelled Xin Jin’s name.