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Meet Devon and Kristy, a couple of ladies dreaming up delicious dreams with a love for community. Photo courtesy of Chowtown

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Devon Long and Kristy Kalkhoven served alongside each other on the auction committee for their kids' co-op preschool a few years ago. It was there they discovered they shared a love of event planning, a passion for community, and that both happen to be immigrants with military spouses. Long coming from Canada and Kalkhoven hailing from England.

With connective tissue like these, it's no wonder an idea was born. Long has a culinary background as a chef. Kalkhoven's roots lie in marketing. And the two were inspired by a hip city to our south, Portland and it's thriving dining scene. Namely, the support it garnered for their mobile food truck community. They decided that it was time to dream up Chowtown, Tacoma's answer to a pod.

With a plethora of concepts swirling over the last year including day dreams of shipping containers (too costly to revamp into commercial kitchen status), to regular pop-up events, the two settled on Chowtown -- a set locale where restaurants on wheels could set up shop to sling their wares. Eager to build something for their community, they participated with the Spaceworks program here in Tacoma, a program with a vision to activate spaces and support creative movers and shakers in the South Sound. It was here they plugged into the resource rich materials, began to really get into market research (read: stuff themselves silly while visiting the Portland pod scene) and connected with the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA).

With the support of Spaceworks and THA, Kalkhoven and Long scored the lot at 1602 South Mildred. A prime spot for such an endeavor with loads of residential neighbors, Tacoma Community College, a public transit station, plus being situated within Tacoma but just a hop away from University Place, Fircrest, Gig Harbor and even Lakewood, all guarantees major foot and regular traffic. Add to that this particular neighborhood is starving for some compelling, non-corporate dining options, and things are pretty exciting for potential diners.

Chowtown won't only serve as a food truck pod but a bumping space. The two are planning events that include live music and movie screenings. Seating will encourage rain-or-shine visitors with umbrellas and awnings. And families hungry for options aside from the usual pizza and chicken nugget standards can bring the whole family to choose from the rotation of food trucks serving up diverse, delicious fare while traveling through. Bonus, play a game of cornhole, jumbo Jenga or Connect 4! And to sweeten the whole pot (as if things could get better), there will be a fire pit available with rental opportunities that include s'mores kits.

Friday marks the "not-quite-grand-opening weekend." This will be a pop-up weekend ahead of the permanent opening, just to give everyone a taste of Chowtown. Everyone is invited to enjoy food from the food trucks, beer and wine from Thirst Responders, and live music at 7 p.m. with The Happy Sinners.

After a soft open, the two will work out the tweaks and batten down the hatches for their grand opening Aug. 2-4 with a slew of festivities including cohosting a movie night with the Audubon Society, screening The Big Year at 8 p.m. on day one.

On Aug. 7, from 5-9 p.m., while waiting for the festival season to slow to a simmer (which consumes much of the food trucks schedules as one of the few reliable platforms to spy on your favorite meals on wheels), Chowtown is cohosting a gathering with Downtown on the Go at Tollefson Plaza with sights set on a vision to activate the space. There will be a beer garden and a local food truck to pair!

The possibilities are endless and Devon and Kristy are looking forward to a summer and autumn season brimming with events and grub and are keeping their options open about potential collaborations. Find out more, or get giddy and get on down to Chowtown to see what they're all about up close and personal, this weekend.

CHOWTOWN, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday, 1602 S. Mildred St., Tacoma,

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