A lunch time crowd starts to form at Dragon Wagon food truck in a lot between Southeast Oak Avenue and Southeast Washington Avenue recently. The lot is the site of a planned food truck court currently scheduled to open in May 2018.

When the Dragon Wagon opened in March, it became the first food truck to operate in Douglas County’s new food truck court, called The Lot at Roseburg, 444 SE Oak Ave.

In the last four years, Dragon Wagon owner Pran Patterson has moved to the U.S. from Thailand, learned English, earned her drivers license and started a business to sell Thai food to the Douglas County community. She just celebrated gaining her American citizenship last Thursday.

The $8 entrees on the Dragon Wagon’s menu include pad thai, drunken noodles, beef noodle soup, and green, yellow and red curries, among other options. The $5 appetizers available include salad rolls with peanut sauce and spring rolls with plum sauce. Patterson said she plans to expand the menu in the future.

“I like to cook from my heart so when you eat, you’re happy,” Patterson said. She said Americans tend to think Thai food is spicy, but she said it’s not spicy unless customers want her to add more spice. Patterson said she doesn’t mind customizing food for her customers if they have specific dietary needs or requests.

With big windows on the side of the truck, Patterson said she wants customers to be able to see the process of how their meals are made.

“I want to show them what I’m cooking,” she said. She added her priorities are cleanliness, freshness and excellent taste.

She said her husband, Greg Patterson, who works for the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, had the idea to name the truck the “Dragon Wagon.” Patterson said in Thailand, dragons are viewed as lucky.

She and her husband met in Thailand while he was there with the Peace Corps and she was working at a Toyota company. After she came to join him in the U.S., Patterson saved money to buy her food truck by working at FCC Furniture and selling tie-dyed items online.

“Life in America is very different from my country, everything is new,” Patterson said. From using a dish washer to a credit card machine, Patterson had to learn many things that may seem everyday to most Americans, but are not often seen in Thailand.

Travis Hill, hospitality director for the Umpqua Indian Development Corporation, is working to establish The Lot as a place where up to 12 food trucks can operate at one time. The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians owns the 0.68-acre property, which has a total real market value of $236,968.

The property used to be the location of the Holiday Motel, which was demolished more than years ago, according to Hill. The property has sat vacant until now.

Wayne Patterson, executive director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership, originally approached the tribe with the idea for The Lot, and Hill took over the project.

Dragon Wagon customer Susie Dinsmore of Roseburg said her daughter had a food truck selling vegetable sushi in North Carolina, and she’s happy the Dragon Wagon is at the food truck court.

“It’s awesome they’re here in Roseburg,” Dinsmore said as she picked up her food to go.

Hill said the food truck court will eventually offer a variety of food in one location.

“There’s obvious interest from the public,” Hill said. “Because food trucks are such an economical avenue for a restaurant owner or entrepreneur to break the ice in that type of industry, it’s a good start and gives more options for our local area.”

While he was waiting for his food from the Dragon Wagon Friday afternoon, Chris Breslin of Roseburg said the food truck court seems like a cool idea.

“It’s cool to have this property as a place of business and it gives more variety,” Breslin said. He added it gives a group of customers more options, so some can visit one truck while others order food from another.

So far, Hill said seven trucks have expressed interest in joining the food truck court, including trucks selling cup cakes, tacos, fish and chips and more. The Dragon Wagon is currently the only truck to be approved, though two other businesses have applications in, Hill said.

The gravel lot will soon get sign posts, picnic tables and a covered shelter for customers to sit and eat, Hill said. The hours of The Lot will vary based on the availability of the food trucks.

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Business, Natural Resources and Outdoors Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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