A frontrunner in the Richmond food truck scene is reviving a Fan restaurant property.
Patrick Harris, owner of Boka Kantina and Boka Tako truck, plans to add to his mini-empire by opening a taco-centric restaurant at 304 N. Robinson St.
The yet-to-be named restaurant will serve a taco-heavy menu with similar pricing to Harris’ brick-and-mortar spot at 1412 Starling Drive. Yet, unlike Boka Kantina, Harris’ new project will have a bar ready for the city’s happy-hour crowd.
“This is what I’ve been looking for the past four years,” Harris said.
Harris signed a two-year lease for the 900-square-foot Fan space last month and is aiming to open it by April. The space was occupied by 304 Pizza Bar before it closed in January. Harris has between $15,000 and $30,000 budgeted for his move into the Fan, which he is financing with a loan from Navy Federal Credit Union.
Harris already has two food trucks and two food carts. Last summer he opened Boka Kantina near Regency Square, which he then expanded to keep up with demand.
Harris said he first got interested in cooking while in a middle school home economics class. He found cooking came easily and continued studying it through high school. Harris said he knew one day he’d want to open his own restaurant, so rather than attend culinary school he went to George Mason University to study business.
He worked in restaurants around Washington, D.C. before opening his first food truck in Richmond in 2010.
“The food truck was an opportunity to get in the business as an owner and a businessman,” Harris said. “I have done in five years what I set out to do.”
Harris is also working on adding another title to his resume.
He is the chairman of the board for the nascent Richmond Food Truck Association. The budding organization is a counterpart to RVA Street Foodies, a food truck association that sought to organize and promote the growing scene. Boka Tako was an original participant, but Harris said he is no longer involved with RVA Street Foodies.
“The official goal of [the Richmond Food Truck Association] is to bring food trucks together under an organization where they can benefit from having each other in one network,” Harris said. “There are so many untapped markets in Richmond.”
Harris said he is being joined in the new group by a crop of new food truck operators, in addition to many more established drivers of the Richmond food truck scene including Michael Ng of Thai Cabin and Robert Stout of The Dog Wagon.