Hannah and Amy Pickle, the married duo behind Raw Girls, have at least found a temporary home for their food truck thanks to a social media blitz, but only after being abruptly asked to leave the lot they'd been serving from in Overton Square since early June.
Since then, Overton Square manager Loeb Properties has cracked down on food trucks operating in the restaurant-heavy entertainment district.
Last week, Raw Girls began serving their raw, vegan meals and cold-pressed juices out of their vintage trailer next to Midtown Yoga and Eclectic Eye, just a stone's throw from Overton Square.
The Raw Girls had been operating their Midtown trailer in Overton Square, in a lot near the corner of Cooper and Trimble Place. (They have another truck that parks in the Hollywood Feed lot on Poplar near Yates in East Memphis.)
According to the Pickles, they struck a deal with Loeb Properties to set up there on a more permanent basis. They had increased their time in the Square to five days a week, and the property manager even installed an electrical outlet for food truck use. Things were going so well between the two parties that the Pickles hired more staff and printed marketing materials to advertise the spot.
Then things changed. They were initially told the truck was blocking access for handicap accessibility, but the Pickles said they were willing to move the trailer, even potentially rent from an empty space in the Square. Then, they were told there was no space available.
"The feeling was, 'Get out now,' and we were told we had to get out immediately," Hannah said. "I would say that was the only thing that made us uncomfortable. Otherwise, they were awesome to us over there."
"We didn't know that one of the tenants had made a complaint," Amy said. "We weren't made aware [of that] until they started posting that publicly."
On social media accounts last week, Overton Square posted that the past couple months were actually a "trial period" for the Raw Girls food truck and Paradise Seafood, another mobile food seller that sells fresh-caught seafood directly to customers. The Overton Square social media accounts published a statement, saying the two "potentially conflict directly" with the current tenants of Overton Square.
According to Mary Caywood, who is the vice-president of marketing for Loeb Properties, the company wanted to create a farmers market during that trial period.
"We just realized [the farmers market] wasn't going to be a good fit for us," she said. "We have a lot of tenants there that offer a variety of things. We couldn't include somebody and exclude another, as far as the food trucks were concerned. We just figured it was not a good venture for us, period."
A city ordinance requires food trucks to locate at least 300 feet outside of restaurant entrances, and when the truck is on private property (like Overton Square), the agreement is contingent upon the permission of the property owner. With the exception of special events, food trucks are now no longer allowed to set up shop at Overton Square.
"We don't want to have a food truck to compete with [tenants] and vice versa," Caywood said. "It's nothing personal against the Raw Girls. They have a great product."
The Raw Girls duo said if everything goes well, they will have a stable home soon. A tentative deal is in the works already.
"The community has come out in the most unbelievable way — the emails, the letters, the texts, the social media [accounts] offering space," Hannah said.
"Hannah and I are very resilient women," Amy said. "We just move forward. We don't have bad feelings toward Overton Square at all. Whenever things happen, it's always leading us forward."