Alec Evans and Kelsi Beek have been close friends since attending culinary school in Iowa. The two relocated five years ago to the North Coast, where they both work as cooks at the Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro.
On Saturday, they will debut bAKos, their from-scratch, Midwestern-inspired burger and taco food cart at the corner of 11th and Duane streets.
“When we lived in Iowa, my mom and dad were the owners of a biker bar, and we would set up and sell stuff out of there,” Beek said.
The pair hatched their plans for a restaurant in Iowa and kept waiting for the right opportunity. Their chance came when Michael Bruhn, the helicopter mechanic who purchased the downtown property in a foreclosure auction, announced he was searching for food carts.
Evans and Beek acquired and converted the former DJ’s Vinyl Vegan cart. They passed their health inspection Thursday and began to prep for the weekend crowds for Astoria Regatta and Second Saturday Art Walk.
Their cart will serve burgers and tacos on fry bread-like shells or vegan corn tortillas. Tacos will come filled with Korean pork, chicken fajita, Cajun prawn, ground beef and vegan textured vegetable protein. The burgers will include a traditional beef patty topped with cheese sauce or a Korean twist with coleslaw.
Sides will include Mexican-style street corn, house-cut fries and coleslaw. The two will also serve up nachos with any meat topping, or a dessert version piled with cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar.
Evans and Beek plan to continue working at the bistro, a block away, as they build up the business. They will switch off between dinner and lunch shifts, opening at 11 a.m. Thursday through Sunday, but plan to eventually expand the menu and add breakfast hours, with items such as donut breakfast burgers.
bAKos is next to Boomer’s All-American Cuisine, the first food cart brought in by Bruhn as he develops what he has called the Art Garden at 11th and Duane.
The corner used to play host to the food carts Snacklebox, DJ’s Vinyl Vegan, Good Bowl and Nourish Juice Bar. But the carts dispersed when the property went into foreclosure proceedings. Snacklebox and Good Bowl relocated to the foot of 11th Street, near the new location of The Naked Lemon bakery, while Nourish Juice Bar took up residence in the Astor Hotel Building.
Boomer’s and bAKos make up the fourth food cart pod in Astoria, with small groups of carts clustered around Reach Break Brewing, Astoria Eco Wash and Pier 11.
“This feels like a good spot to be, and it’s where it was before,” Beek said of the 11th Street pod. “It’s still got a little bit of the history right here.”