A local chef is opening a gourmet sandwich cart Monday on Duane Street, with plans for a future noodle bar inside the former J.C. Penney store.
Jason Lancaster recently parked his custom-made food cart outside the Art Garden at 11th and Duane streets. After passing a health inspection Thursday, Lancaster said he will be ready to go Monday as Sasquatch Sandwiches.
“I’m really trying to capture that downtown lunch crowd — quick, fast, easy to go,” he said.
Lancaster plans an international spin on classic sandwiches with items like a Korean Reuben with pickled cabbage, a chicken curry cashew salad sandwich and num pang, a Cambodian sandwich reminiscent of banh mi. On the side, he’ll have house-made macaroni salad, pickles and kimchi coleslaw, along with daily soup specials.
“Mine are all going to be composed sandwiches, much like you’d get out of a fine-dining restaurant,” he said. “You’re going to get a composed sandwich hitting all the flavor profiles.”
Originally from Seattle, Lancaster has worked at restaurants in California and Utah. He has lived on the North Coast since 2007, working at local staples such as the Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria, The Cove in Long Beach, Washington, and Maggie’s on the Prom in Seaside and competing in local cooking competition Iron Chef Goes Coastal.
“I think there’s a push for talented chefs to work on trucks, because it’s their own thing,” he said. “They get to control it. You don’t have to have a lot of employees. The overhead is kind of low. It gives you a chance to play around without having a million things to pay for.”
Astoria has become a haven for food carts and other miniature and mobile eateries.
Ramen and sushi cart Roll & Bowl recently opened outside the Art Garden, following hot dog cart Baby Boomer’s All-American and the recently relocated bAKos taco and burger cart. North on 11th Street, Ken Booth recently opened a Japanese-inspired walk-up window Būsu.
Mai Tong Thai Food, The Hot Box BBQ and Asian infusion cart Hong Kong Taco have all taken up residency outside Reach Break Brewing and Reveille Ciderworks at the Astoria Station east on Duane Street. Outside the Astoria Eco Wash near the Roundabout, pasty cart Bucket Bites recently joined the stalwart El Azadero Mexican food truck.
Local property owner Sean Fitzpatrick and Baked Alaska owner and chef Chris Holen are planning a food court and tap house inside the former J.C. Penney across Duane Street from Astoria Station. Lancaster, who has long had an affinity for Asian food, is planning to open Black Fern Noodle Bar there once the project gets off the ground, offering a diverse array of noodle dishes.
“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a traditional noodle house,” he said. “It’s going to be a fusion. But I’m really stoked with that J.C. Penney’s thing. I think Astoria’s ready to embrace that.”