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Jan. 27, 2022

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Carts by the Park food-truck site buoys Ridgefield restaurant scene

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A new food cart pod called Carts by the Park is being created in downtown Ridgefield.
A new food cart pod called Carts by the Park is being created in downtown Ridgefield. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Carts by the Park recently opened in downtown Ridgefield, bringing expanded eating options to the community at 219 Pioneer St., across from City Hall.

The food cart pod includes Sugars Barbecue, Little Conejo Norte, and Drinks by the Park, a beverage truck. There’s also a small spot for rotating cart pop-ups. The owners hope to fill the space with a fourth permanent truck by the end of the year.

Kristen Riggs, owner of the Olde Library Inn, Ryan Zygar, founder of Tieton Homes, and Braden Hurt, owner of Chuck’s Heating & Cooling, along with Hurt’s wife, Amy, built the pod to create a greater variety of dining options for downtown Ridgefield.

“We’re big foodies, so we love great food,” said Riggs. “Viejo does the best grilled jalapenos, I love Vinnie’s salad, I always get the club sandwich at the Sportsman, and Pioneer Cafe has great pies, but I wanted to have other options that don’t require a long drive.”

The group sought food trucks through Facebook Marketplace and a food cart platform. Lynnae Oxley-Loupe, of Battle Ground-based Sugars Barbecue, responded immediately. Since opening her business in 2006, she’s been a Gold Medal Games finalist on “Chopped” and appeared on “BBQ Brawl — Flay vs. Symon” and “BBQ Pitmasters.”

Oxley-Loupe’s Ridgefield truck is open at Carts by the Park on Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until her food sells out. The menu includes beef brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken as well as sides like buttermilk slaw, fries, potato salad, and beans. Banana pudding for dessert rounds out the short menu.

Little Conejo Norte, owned by Mychal Dynes and Mark Wooten of Vancouver favorite Little Conejo, opened their truck on Sept. 11. The food truck menu includes the business’s famous tacos in addition to two items not found at their Vancouver restaurant or Portland food truck — burritos and Sonoran hot dogs. For the week of Sept. 15, their hours are Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The owners are seeking sufficient staff to maintain regular hours.

Dynes and Wooten also own the pod’s drink truck, Drinks by the Park. They’re working with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to get a license allowing them to sell alcoholic beverages, such as their popular margaritas. They hope to be approved by the end of the year.

The truck will also serve coffee and espresso drinks made with Relevant Coffee beans. A barista is currently going through extensive training with Relevant Coffee. The owners will open for coffee, espresso drinks, mocktails, and soda soon.

Zen Thai & Sushi of Coos Bay, Ore., had expressed interest in the last spot in the pod but wasn’t able to open due to pandemic-related complications, including the inability to hire staff, as well as difficulty finding a truck approved to operate in Washington.

The pod owners are currently seeking another truck to fill the space. They want a business offering cuisine that isn’t currently available in downtown Ridgefield, such as Indian street food, sushi, crepes, or fresh salads and vegan food.

Carts by the Park’s Facebook and Instagram sites (@cartsbythepark) provide updated information about the pod. The space will be covered to allow for year-round dining.