This story is part of Tri-Cities Best, a viewer-voted portion of News Channel 11’s community coverage. Your votes placed Alley Kat as the region’s best food truck, among other finalists:
- Bristol Berry Bowls
- JP’s Kitchen on Wheels
Thousands of votes were cast, and each one is an honor for those nominated.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – When Alley Kat owners Paezha McCartt and Austin Britt first bought into the food scene of the Tri-Cities, they weren’t sure what the future might hold.
They’d never owned any kind of eatery before, much less one that could be towed around. But with a little patience and a lot of love, the duo said their new venture is more than worth it.
Alley Kat has offered loaded-down Philly sandwiches and sauced-up wings in one form or another for years and was originally a brick-and-mortar location on West Walnut Street before closing. Later, the Alley Kat brand was bought and revived by a former employee who then closed it in the midst of COVID-19 economic impacts.
“We had eaten Alley Kat before, and we had loved it,” McCartt said. “And we also knew how devastated this community was when Alley Kat ceased to exist.”
In late 2021, Alley Kat was listed for sale and purchased by McCartt and Britt, who received the original recipes and training from the previous owner. Now, Alley Kat lives at 216 Ashe Street in Johnson City and occasionally travels to other nearby destinations to bring new crowds a Tri-Cities classic.
So what is it that sets the eatery apart in a world of stellar mobile kitchens? Simple: classic recipes and quality ingredients.
“The prep is huge, I’ve made Philly Cheesesteaks before but never like this,” Britt said. “To me, it comes down to the type of meat that we get, the cut, the prep and everything that goes into it before it even gets to the truck.”
The duo doesn’t spend much of their time in the kitchen, and both have full-time jobs elsewhere when they aren’t on-site. Instead, McCartt said Alley Kat’s recipe for success is trusting their experienced kitchen staff, many of whom came from the original truck that followed the brick and mortar location.
“We’re not the ones that are cooking in the trailer and handing out the food that everybody loves,” McCartt said. “So I definitely want to mention and say thank you to our staff, because we’re very lucky to have them. They’re dedicated to Alley Kat and to serving the community, and we would not be sitting here if it weren’t for them because they’re who keeps it going day-to-day.”
Alley Kat also has new menu items on the horizon.
“We launched some surveys online regarding different sandwich types and wing flavors,” McCartt said, speaking about when they were first opening back up. “And we had thousands of responses to that survey we launched, and so we’re going to kind of mimic something similar to that to let the community pick since we’re so thankful that they got us here.”
Alongside completely new menu items, McCartt said there’s a chance that old favorites may come back as the new owners have officially met with some of the original founders and shared recipes.
While they’re relatively new to the field, Alley Kat’s new owners work each day to live up to and carry on the name that rumbles stomachs throughout the Tri-Cities.