Loosewheels Alley creating a downtown hotspot for great food, cold beer and live music

During lunch and dinner, passers-by strolling along North Main Street in downtown Columbia could smell the alluring aroma of expertly grilled burgers dripping with roquelain cheese, floating down the lane adjacent to the Pipe Factory. BriarWorks and the tap room.

If they turn their heads to peek down the alley, they’ll see the cozy new home of the Loosewheels food truck. At night, hanging lights illuminate the alleyway, and happy eaters socialize at picnic tables as they bite into crispy onion rings – a food that has developed a following – sink their teeth into a double patty or savor an authentic sandwich Cuban, which stands about 4 inches tall.

Several years ago, chef and musician Marcus Malone launched his Loosewheels food truck, a mobile spin-off of Lucille’s restaurant at his old establishment.

As the former owner of Lucille’s, 822 S. Main St., which later became Marco’s at 822 South then Bistro 822, Malone wanted to bring the business back in a new and more modern way, akin to the continued growth of the downtown.

The name of the food truck also gives a respectful pun and a historic nod to the classic Lucille’s brand.

After eliciting large numbers of people climbing for Malone’s iconic burgers and famous round-the-clock hand-pickled, pickled onion rings, opening a food truck seemed the natural solution given the growing Maury County food truck community.

Although his initial vision was to become another brick and mortar establishment, a new idea was born: to settle down in the cozy alleyway of downtown Columbia.

In early November, “Loosewheels Alley” opened as a permanent location for its food truck, immediately attracting customers and initiating a partnership with Briarworks owner Pete Prevost.

So far, the new spot has been a success, generating a crowd and attracting loyal burger eaters.

“I don’t know if I would even consider doing a brick and mortar after what we’ve done here,” said Malone.

“With the old restaurant it was an organic thing that we built. It just happened, like they did in places like East Nashville or Portland or Austin. They just did things that had a really cool vibe. “

Loosewheels founder and chef Marcus Malone prepares an Onion and Cheese Burger, one of the food truck's signature sandwiches, which features sliced ​​caramelized onions topped with sticky American cheese and mayonnaise.

Loosewheels typically operate lunch and dinner shifts from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, as well as from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. am on Saturday. With its increasing popularity, food tends to sell out, so pre-orders are recommended by calling (423) 255-0753.

The Loosewheels concept, Malone said, is to create a new ‘off the beaten track’ gathering place where he can not only have a stable business, but also flow his clientele into the local pipe store, while still keeping a tradition. local that started with Lucille’s safe and sound. He also has a long-term vision to develop the location over the next year.

“Honestly, I feel like with the influx of new people coming to town, they’re kind of used to this big city mentality, and they’re going to appreciate what we’re trying to do here. , it’s off the beaten track, which in my opinion is the coolest thing ever, ”said Malone.

“It’s a place where people can come and enjoy good food and feel safe that they’re not in a bar or where it’s crowded. We have ideas for live music, or for to have a projector where we can show old movies. It’s, “That’s going to be the kind of place that a lot of people miss.”

Prévost has also noticed a change in his clientele since the alley restaurant opened, with more people entering the establishment during the day and others finding out what Briarworks has to offer.

The menu at Loosewheels features Chef Marcus Malone's famous hand-breaded onion rings, as well as gourmet burgers and weekly specials.

“Another big reason I always wanted to do something in the alleyway was because we were a bit limited, having to be 21 and over indoors. When we open an outdoor outlet on site to which everything age may come, that’s a huge bonus, ”says Prévost. “And unlike most places in Colombia, we stay open later.”

Some of the popular dishes on the Loosewheels menu include favorites like the “Loosewheel” burger, which features a “double crushed” patty topped with a “special recipe” chili cheese, caramelized onions and bacon between a toasted bun. butter. The “Alley Melt” offers the same double mashed burger with bacon and mayonnaise sandwiched between two grilled Texas cheese sandwiches.

There are also weekly specials, such as Malone’s popular “third generation” recipe meatloaf, bacon-loaded cheeseburger fries, a Cuban sandwich, and a crispy fried mac and cheese. The Cuban is filled with ham, homemade smoked pulled pork, cheese mustard and pickles.

“Some customers tell me he’s one of the most authentic Cubans they’ve ever had,” said Malone.

Loosewheels Chef Marcus Malone prepares a plate of popular burgers from the food truck in Loosewheels Alley in Briarworks in downtown Columbia.

Bringing back his gourmet recipes to his crowd of loyal followers, as well as new customers has been exciting, but Malone’s long-held vision is to make the alley a new favorite place for people to come together and enjoy. local ‘flavors’, incorporating a local al-ages to offer live music, movie nights and more.

But the growth and progress in achieving his vision comes step by step, or rather one beef patty at a time. Still, no matter how much work it takes, Malone says ultimately it’s all about community and creating an atmosphere that will leave visitors wishing to come back for more.

“I just have a hunch that it’s going to be really cool, something that we were looking for. There have been a lot of great places that have popped up here, like Marcy Jo’s, but since 822 started, in live music was reserved for Puckett’s and a few beer bars, ”said Malone.

“I have a bunch of talented people just waiting to play here, and people are starting to come out more now that COVID has calmed down. By spring or summer, this place will be ready to rock. “

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