Where do you go out to dinner when someone in your party wants pizza, another craves a burger and someone else is a vegetarian? Pleasing everyone’s palette is never an easy task.
As a reflection of the entrepreneurial chefs parked at Durango’s new food truck scene on the corner of 11th Street and Main Avenue, menu options range from gourmet sliders to chicken curry to homemade soups to Japanese steamed buns to wood-fired pizza.
Add a full bar with craft cocktails, indoor and outdoor communal seating, fire pits, occasional live music and a coffee bar, and you’ve got the new 11th Street Station, now serving Durango with options from:
Manny’s Fresh Co.: Asian fusion with a global twistSmokin’ On Wheels: barbecue comfort food Backcountry Gourmet: sliders, fries and salads Mariana’s Authentic Cuisine: fresh, homemade Asian take-out The Box: wood-fired pizza and gourmet snacksTaste Coffee: roaster-driven, single-origin coffee “We are refining the food truck experience,” said 11th Street Station co-owner Marcos Wisner. “We are affordable, quick, eclectic, unique and delicious.”
Open seven days a week, Taste Coffee will be the first to open at 6 a.m., serving specialty coffee until 3 p.m. Ernie’s Bar will open at 11 a.m. and pour drinks until late night. The hours of the food truck vendors vary but will cater to the lunch, dinner and late-night crowds.
The customer experience at the 11th Street Station can range from picking up takeout to multi-course meals. Designed as a hybrid counter/waitress/self-service operation, customers are free to order food at individual trucks, drinks at the bar, find their seats and kick back while they enjoy their selections. Staff members will be available for assisting in drink orders, running food and busing tables.
The venue’s style is a nod to the location’s storied heritage, mirroring various gas and food stations that called the same address home from the early 1920s to 1970s. One of the longest running businesses at this location was a Conoco gas station owned and operated by Ernie Schaaf for 48 years. As a tribute, the 11th Street Station’s bar is named Ernie’s, featuring a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air built into the back bar.
In 1988, Jaime Wisner purchased the corner to house a travel business he operated until 2005, followed by more than a decade of renting the location before co-conspiring on the 11th Street Station concept with his son, Marcos.
“It’s been such an exciting opportunity to work with my son, Marcos, collaborating on this vision,” said co-owner Jamie Wisner. “We want to create a space that lends itself to the community while entertaining new culinary concepts and ideas. This has been an amazing experience and could have only happened by combining our shared passions and backgrounds.”
Marcos, an accomplished chef and fifth-generation Durango local, is looking forward to not only offering his hometown something new and exciting but also providing a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs and chefs to pursue their own restaurant endeavors without the overwhelming burdens of starting a business on their own.
“This is such a great spot for building community, friendships and partnerships,” said Taste Coffee’s Ronnie Hardt. “Just the fact that they are helping me and I am helping them gives us such a unique opportunity to grow together.”
As eclectic as the menu options, each food truck has its own story on how it ended up finding its parking space at the 11th Street Station. Brothers Dylan and Beau Lindborg went in on a partnership to completely rebuild a food truck in order to bring Backcountry Gourmet to life. Marcos Wisner passed down the previous home of The Box wood-fired pizza to Manny Cuevas, who brings 16 years of Japanese cuisine experience to the reincarnated food truck at Manny’s Fresh Co.
Mariana’s Authentic Cuisine finally finds a permanent home at the 11th Street Station to serve homemade Asian food out of the bright yellow food truck that has graced the streets of Durango for the past five years.
Because of the nature of the smaller-scale kitchens and businesses, each food truck vendor has the ability to change their menus often to offer seasonal ingredients and adjust to special customer requests.
“I just love cooking,” said Smokin’ on Wheels’ owner Kate Morgan. “I’m excited to get in tune with the Durango locals and play around with our specialties.”
Many vendors expressed the desire to source as many local ingredients as possible from veggies to meats and even at the bar from local craft beers to kombucha.
“Collectively, we are an awesome team,” says Ernie’s Bar manager Bridgette Tesmer. “We have a menu reflective of the passion this corner puts off.”