Almost immediately, elation ensued as fans of the former eatery saw the message and began hoping for its return. One user tweeted, “do not play with my heart like this,” while another responded with, “SO HELP ME GOD IF THIS IS FAKE.”
It is not fake.
A former employee of the restaurant, Alex Weaver, confirmed Monday his intent to bring Alley Kat back in the form of a food truck. Kevin Cummings is also a partner in the endeavor.
Weaver, who worked at Alley Kat when he was 15, said he’s been wanting to resurrect the restaurant since it closed in January 2016.
“I knew it (didn’t close) because the people didn’t want it. I knew that was never the case, it was just personal things. I knew there was always a place for Alley Kat in Johnson City,” Weaver said.
Former Alley Kat co-owner Mark Katras, who was also Weaver’s soccer coach, gave him a job at the eatery when Weaver was 15 years old, a job Weaver kept until he graduated high school and moved to Texas for college.
“When I went to Texas, I actually kept on cooking. The past two years, I bought a single trailer in Austin, Texas, and set up at soccer fields and cooked up Philly cheesesteaks on the weekends. So I kind of kept it going in Austin, not as Alley Kat, but just my own little thing there,” Weaver said.
While working at Alley Kat, Weaver was also trained by co-owner David Hudson, who died in a 2007 car crash.
“It’s really great to do this for David. 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.”
Weaver, who moved back to Johnson City a week ago to start this venture, already has a trailer ready that is being wrapped with the revamped Alley Kat logo.
While the trailer will occasionally move around to various businesses and breweries, the Alley Kat food truck’s home base will be 403 W. Buffalo St., in downtown Johnson City.
“We’re going to have tables out there, a tent and heaters out for the winter. We want to get corn hole. We want to make it like that same kind of atmosphere (as the original Alley Kat). Even though it’s going to be a trailer, we want it to be more like a restaurant where you can sit down and chill. It’s going to be a nice little area,” he said.
As far as the menu, Weaver plans to start simple.
“Of course, we’re going to do the chicken cheesesteaks, the Philly cheesesteaks. We’ll have the wraps, Buffalo fries and the sweet potatoes fries. We’re going to keep it a simple menu at first, and then we’ll do like a weekly rotating menu. So we’ll have a different item every week,” Weaver said.
The Alley Kat food truck will also be taking menu suggestions on social media.
Although he’s focused on getting the truck up and running, Weaver would not rule out the possibility of one day opening another permanent location, but before that happens, he expressed interest in possibly opening another Alley Kat food truck in Bristol or Kingsport.
“The ability to move around to different locations, businesses and breweries, I think people enjoy that,” he said.
Weaver said Alley Kat should be open for business by the first or second week of February. For updates on the Alley Kat food truck, visit https://twitter.com/AlleyKatEats.