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Food trucks get a permanent destination on Sioux City's West Seventh Street
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Food trucks get a permanent destination on Sioux City's West Seventh Street

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It is readily apparent that Peggy La is a natural at making a sale.

Standing inside a then-empty lot at 700 W. Seventh St., she said the space will soon be the permanent home to a wide array of food trucks.

"This will be different for Sioux City because customers won't have to track down their favorite food truck," La explained. "That's because many will be here from three to six days a week."

Indeed, the Yummi Blox food truck lot, which was devised by La and her husband John Keoasa, will have its official grand opening on June 4.

Such popular trucks as Tako N' Madre, Kats Grub, Chinos and La Palapa are expected to pull up and offer made-to-order meals.

"I think food truck culture is getting bigger and bigger every year," La said. "People are responding because the food is good and there is so much variety."

Actually, La's knowledge of the growing marketplace for food trucks was gained by personal experience.

"My husband and I love to travel," she explained. "On the road, we'd see entire city blocks devoted to food trucks."

Originally from the south, John Keoasa always wanted to open up his own food truck, specializing in down-home delicacies like crayfish and crab.

While Mr. Crawfish is still in its planning stages, Keoasa and La decided to purchase the Yummi Blox lot sooner rather than later.

"If you're not willing to act on your dreams, you'll never achieve your dreams," La said.

That was the philosophy of La's dad, a former meatpacking plant employee, who decided to open Hong Kong Food Market in 1988.

"My dad was tired of being someone else's employee," La said. "Instead, he became his own boss."

More than 30 years later, Hong Kong Food Market is still a popular destination at 501 W. Seventh St.

La clearly shares her dad's entrepreneurial zeal.

"I could never work for somebody," she said with a smile. "I have too much fun working for me."

In fact, Yummi Blox was conceived as a way to bring more people to W. Seventh Street.

"We've always been a busy street with lots of traffic," La said. "We want to give folks a reason to stop and shop at some really interesting locally-owned businesses."

Between Wesley Parkway and Hamilton Boulevard, the West Seventh Street business district is home to three different Asian-owned restaurants, an Asian-owned auto body shop, a handful of Asian-owned hair salons and a beauty supply store catering to African-American woman.

In addition to Hong Kong Food Market, which La currently runs, W. Seventh Street is also home to a grocery store with an impressive selection of South-of-the-Border food items.

"Sioux City is so lucky to have such diverse businesses," La said. "John and I want Yummi Blox to uplift our surrounding area by bringing ever more diversity."

And, hopefully, it will bring more foot traffic to the area.

"Every business is within walking distance from each other," La explained. "We really are a tight-knit community."

For instance, La said she can easily walk from Hong Kong Food Market to Yummi Blox, which is two blocks away, in less than five minutes.

"If I was in a hurry, I could run here in even less time," the always-energetic La said. 

We don't doubt that. After all, she has to keep pace with her six-month-old son Zeus.

"Yes, John and I did name our son after a Greek god," La said with a laugh. "No pressure there, right?"

If mom and dad have anything to do with it, Zeus will grow up with pride of his heritage. This is because La has been a driving force behind the ninth annual Siouxland Asian Festival, which is slated to take place from noon to 4 p.m. June 19 at Riverside Park, 1301 Riverside Blvd.

"We'll have Korean Pop music, traditional Laos dancing and, of course, plenty of food choices," La said.

La said this year's Siouxland Asian Fest will be big since last year, the event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Similarly, Yummi Blox was in its planning stages well before COVID hit.

"The pandemic put everything on the back burner," La said. "With things opening up again, we're back to taking one step after another."

This will be true for both Hong Kong Food Market as well as for Yummi Blox.

"I'm too independent to work for anybody," La said. "It just isn't part of my personality."

Well, maybe yes. But maybe no.

Um, don't count out Zeus when it comes to priorities.

"OK, I get to be the 'Boss Lady' at work and Zeus gets to be the 'Boss Baby' at home," La said with a smile. 

  

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