They say cats have nine lives, and the same appears to be true for Alley Kat, a popular sandwich shop-turned-truck in Johnson City that will reopen under new ownership in February.
Paezha McCartt and Austin Britt announced in early December on the Alley Kat Facebook page that they had purchased the food truck after the previous owners put the business and the recipes up for sale.
“Because we love this community, we love the history and traditions of Alley Kat, and it seemed like a great business venture, it was a win-win situation all the way around,” McCartt said.
McCartt said the couple’s primary goal is to honor the legacy of Alley Kat. That being said, they plan to be open for more days and hours, offer new menu items as weekly specials, and travel to different locations. They also plan to be a “dedicated community partner,” participating in fundraising and working with local groups.
The truck will bring back the same food and recipes, McCartt said, and will not take any items off the menu. New offerings will include sandwiches, wing flavors, desserts and more. They’ve also run several surveys on Alley Kat social media pages to gather ideas about menu additions.
Although they had planned to reopen in mid-January, issues with the trailer forced McCartt and Britt to delay the opening by about a month.
The owners have now upgraded the truck’s electrical system, reconfigured the inside of the trailer, purchased new appliances and replaced the tires, light fixtures and more.
“We just wanted to get all of our improvements done prior to opening so that once we open it will be smooth sailing from there on,” McCartt said.
McCartt and Britt now plan to host a grand reopening for Alley Kat in February. The food truck will offer specials, introduce a few new menu items and launch a loyalty program. They will announce the specific date and more details about the event on social media.
The food truck’s primary location will be 216 Ashe St. in Johnson City, but the business will move around to bring Alley Kat to as many people as possible. Locations, days and times will be posted in advance on the business’ social media accounts.
McCartt is finishing her doctorate in public health at East Tennessee State University, and Britt has a master’s in business administration.
Known for its wings, burgers and subs, Alley Kat started out as a brick-and-mortar shop at 803 W. Walnut St., but permanently closed in 2016. The spot is now home to Peggy Ann Bakery.
Alex Weaver, a former employee who worked at Alley Kat during high school, resurrected the restaurant as a food truck in 2019 with business partner Kevin Cummings.
Weaver left his job at the restaurant after graduating college and moved to Texas, but he told the Johnson City Press in December 2018 that he kept cooking.
“I bought a single trailer in Austin, Texas, and set up at soccer fields and cooked up Philly cheesesteaks on the weekends,” Weaver told the paper. “So I kind of kept it going in Austin, not as Alley Kat, but just my own little thing there.”
Weaver said opening the truck was also a way to honor former co-owner David Hudson, who died in a 2007 car crash.
“That’s who I was trained by when I was in there, so it’s really special for me,” Weaver said. “Whenever people went in (Alley Kat), it wasn’t just for food. Everyone kind of felt like family in there. Everyone loved it. It was so easy to have a good time in there. So we want to bring back that same sort of vibe.”