Downtown Juneau’s outdoor food court is expanding, with more restaurants and longer seasons

Workers construct a retaining wall at the outdoor food court location on Franklin Street on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

An empty lot that once housed the now-demolished Elks Hall building in downtown Juneau will be getting a new life this summer. 

Last week, the Juneau planning commission unanimously agreed to allow David McCasland of Deckhand Dave’s, a fish taco stand, to use the site to expand his seasonal outdoor food court on Franklin Street. 

McCasland said he hopes to open the expanded food court by May. All of the staple restaurants from last year will be there, along with new food trucks like Pucker Wilson’s and Southeast Gold Mine Gourmet Popcorn. 

I’m basically doing exactly what I’ve been doing before for not quite a decade — it’s my ninth year in business — but it’s now just a little bit bigger,” he said.

McCasland bought the historic Elks Hall building last fall with hopes of restoring it to build housing. The hall was built in 1908 and hosted the first Alaska Territorial Legislature in 1913. But McCasland said that after buying it, he soon found it wasn’t financially feasible to salvage it. The hall was demolished last fall

At the meeting, McCasland told commissioners he still wants to turn some of the land into housing later down the line. 

“Right now, I’m like as broke as could be. So right now I’m just trying to make it,” he said. “But the long-term plan is to build housing.”

Planning Commission chair Mandy Cole said she’s excited about the food court project.

“I am grateful that there’s a business owner in this community who is willing to work on that site and make this area usable and lovely for the people of Juneau and for those who visit it,” she said. “And I think it’s high time and I’m pretty excited to eat a taco there.”

McCasland said he also hopes to keep the food court open for more of the year. In the past, it only operated in the summertime. He said he wants to keep it open during the spring, summer and fall seasons this year, and eventually maybe year-round.

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