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The proliferation of food truck parks

IMG_1291It seems that it was only a few months ago that food trucks in Atlanta was the hot new trend to hit our city. Exciting new food with a hint of political activism.

It all began when the first street food vendor to capture our hearts, The King of Pops, burst onto the scene in the spring of 2010. Soon thereafter, the Hankook Taqueria-powered Yumbii popped up and food trucks and all of the regulatory road blocks hindering this new segment of the Atlanta restaurant scene came into the public discourse. (The Atlanta Street Food Coalition began organizing supporters for the cause since the summer of ’09, I’m simply referring to when the average foodie actually started paying attention.)

Because food trucks can only set up shop on private property, leaders had to look for alternate venues to help raise awareness and give these new business somewhere to operate. Events like the Urban Picnic and Souper Jenny’s Food Truck Extravaganza provided a sanctioned place for food trucks to gather and for diners to sample a cross section of the newest trucks on the scene.

Fast forward a year and many of the roadblocks limiting the food truck scene are still in place, though there are now over 10 food trucks fully permitted by the health department. The food truck fever on the blogosphere may have died down, but more and more trucks have been popping up and many still need a place to operate.

The newest evolution in the Atlanta food truck scene is that of neighborhood food truck parks. Things began slowly, with an event maybe one or two days a week. But now, there is a gathering of trucks nearly every night.

Whether it be in Buckhead, Atlantic Station, Virginia Highland, Inman park, or Howell mill, if you live in town getting your food truck fix should only be a short drive away. And good news for the not-so-in-town crowd, the AJC recently reported that Marietta is beginning to take steps to permit food trucks as well.

I attended Food Truck Wednesday in Virginia Highland this week and really enjoyed getting to try many of the newer trucks around town. I personally think that this is a great development. Yes, it allows for more spots for the food trucks to conduct business, but I think it enriches the participating neighborhoods. Plus, if you live in the same area for long enough, no matter how diverse the local restaurants are, things grow stale after a while. This is a great way to mix things up.

Social media and the food truck scene have been intertwined from the get-go, so things like the Twitter feed from Atlanta Street Food or websites like Roaming Hunger remain the best way to stay up to date on where you can find the trucks.

Are there any regular food truck gatherings in your area that people may not know about?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

19 comments Add your comment

HDIII

July 22nd, 2011
9:38 am

I am an attorney in the city and I represent/advise a few of the food trucks and carts in the city, with respect to permitting, trademarks, and contract drafting and review, in addition to general business matters. As explained above, the permitting process can be–rather, is–overwhelming and convoluted. Many think that coming up with an idea for a food truck or cart is the hard part; it’s not–permitting definitely takes the cake (or popsicle). I would definitely advise anyone thinking about the food truck/cart industry to do the research and consult an attorney before they invest a substantial amount of capital into a food truck venture. The permitting process is only made easier and cheaper (relatively speaking) if you navigate the permitting process correctly. The trucks have worked hard to get through all the tape and my constant desire for King of Pops, Yumbii, and Yum Yum Cupcake are all testament that their hard work has paid off! I really see this food truck/cart movement taking off in Atlanta.

"See-Food" Diet

July 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

I’m glad to finally see food trucks in this city. Next, they need to find a way to tap the underserved area near North Avenue and Peachtree (Bank of America Plaza and Emory Hospital Midtown = $$$$). There’s nothing to eat here, and we’re too far from Underground, V-Hi, and Midtown. Find somewhere to park here (make a deal with a surface parking lot), and we’ll join you for lunch every week!

a1b2343

July 22nd, 2011
12:52 pm

“the permitting process can be–rather, is–overwhelming and convoluted.”

look who’s in charge.. nothing but cronyism and malfeasance.. and apathetic voters. This city is a cesspool and it’s not going to change.

Pete

July 22nd, 2011
1:24 pm

I am interested in getting into the Food Truck business. I am looking for an attorney to assist.
How do I find an Attorney that understands the ins and outs process.
Pete

Mike

July 22nd, 2011
3:22 pm

Anyone driving to a food truck event is putting the moron in oxymoron. While I used to love walking to the Yumbii truck when they parked at the Prominence building in Buckhead, a “food truck park” is a just a food court…

Alison

July 22nd, 2011
6:09 pm

I attended the Atlanta Street Food Coalition’s class on how to set up a food truck business, and let me tell ya–it sounds WAY FREAKIN’ HARDER than opening a regular restaurant. I don’t want to start a business that I can only operate during special events so I will probably lay off until the laws get better. We will never be a “real” city like Portland or Austin as long as these rules are in place.

Lisa

July 22nd, 2011
7:28 pm

Food Truck Wednesday in VA Highland & Food Truck Wednesday in Rathbun’s Parking lot (Old 4th Ward/Inman/Cabbagetown)

Seems like a lot for one day…

Edward

July 24th, 2011
11:02 am

Atlanta can’t even sequence a traffic light correctly, so expecting anything else to be logical here is just asking for too much.

FoodTruckLife.com

July 24th, 2011
11:47 pm

Rate your food truck experience at FoodTruckLife.com!

Grasshopper

July 25th, 2011
11:03 am

I agree with Mike. This whole ‘craze’ seems a bit forced in a city like Atlanta where people rarely walk anywhere. I can see it in denser cities…but where you have to drive to get to it? We’ll see.

Lisa

July 25th, 2011
1:34 pm

Have you done a review of the food trucks? I think they are a great idea but I found the food to be underwhelming.

kat

July 26th, 2011
3:17 pm

Does no one see the irony in *driving your car* to get to a “food truck park” at all?

Michelle

July 27th, 2011
8:44 am

Underground Atlanta hosts Eat Street! Food Truck Wednesday every Wednesday, 11am-2pm, on Upper Alabama Street!

Jbird

July 28th, 2011
9:11 am

I went to the Howell Mill one on Tuesday. It is cool, they had 10 trucks there. I live in SW Atlanta, where I realize food trucks aren’t going to come any time soon. So what are my options? I have friends that have walked to them from work in Midtown when they are there. I just don’t have that option from home or from work near Perimeter.

To me it is the ability to sample a variety of items at a relatively low cost and have fun while doing it. $2-3 tacos, some fries, a popsicle, etc. And everything I have had in recent months – Yumbii, Boners BBQ, Tex’s Tacos, Good Food Truck, Pup Truck, Tamale Queen, Westside Creamery, King of Pops, etc., are all very good and SO fresh. We did equate it to a food court as as joke – an outdoor one with better, fresher tasting food. And a good variety.

If you don’t like the idea, don’t go. Pretty simple solution. I liked driving to Howell Mill, parking, bringing chairs and meeting a few friends, and sampling a variety of items that everyone got while hanging out after work. It was a fun thing to do on a Tuesday Night for dinner. Looked like some of the parents who brought their kids there were also enjoying themselves.

Mike’s rationale about driving is about the equivalent of saying don’t drive to Piedmont Park. Why not? How else am I supposed to get there? I don’t have a park that size near me, nor a dog park, so yes, i would have to drive to walk around a park with my dog. Same with food trucks, they aren’t near me, so I have to drive to them. And nice elitist/hipster way to put it by essentially calling people morons. Genius way to get your point across.

Jennifer

July 28th, 2011
10:04 am

I love the food trucks! I work right by the Howell Mill Food Park so on Tuesdays it is very easy for me to leave my car parked at work and walk across the street. Love it! I enjoy being able to sample a variety of foods for little cost and I can switch it up each week. How can you not like that? I think Jbird had a lot of good points. If you don’t want to drive to get to the food trucks, then don’t. Pretty easy solution. I live in Midtown, so if I wanted to venture there from work during lunch from a food truck I would have to drive, figure out where to park, realize there isn’t any parking, and then I would be empty handed. So yeah, the Howell Mill location is great. I’ve noticed a lot of families who live in the area coming out and enjoying the scene, too. I think it’s fantastic! Go ahead and be a grumpus about driving to the food trucks. It’s more for me!

Elliot Garcia

July 28th, 2011
10:12 am

You tell’em Jennifer Jones!!

jellybean

July 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

The Food Truck movement is creating a positive change to the city of Atlanta. And This is exactly what Atlanta needed. Hopefully it will can Atlanta moving, ie lots more walking, pedestrians strolling thru the city, just more activity in general. I enjoy all of the food trucks, especially Dogs On Wheels adjacent from Piedmont Park and 12th. There hot dogs are by far the best. The experience is very unique to the other food vendors because this food stand brings an experience to the mix. Sixty retro theme,professional attire, sixties music and outdoor seating is also an option.

Gman

July 28th, 2011
5:03 pm

A city the size of Atlanta with only a handful of food trucks is unpleasantly surprising. What about the guy who solely wants to operate a food truck unattached to a restaurant? Unless a person is a restaurant owner with the food truck being an extension of their brick and mortar establishment, at this time investing in a food truck is a waste of money in the ATL. Way too much red tape. However keep hope alive-perhaps there is a figurative pair of scissors out there that will be able to cut through the red tape.

WarehamWelds

July 28th, 2011
5:37 pm

The food truck revolution is a great thing for Atlanta as a whole and entrepreneurs in particular. I have attended many meetings concerning everything from branding, construction, and permitting. I feel strides are being made to welcome new vendors into the fold. Atlanta Street Food coalition in particular, is working tirelessly to aid existing and potential food truck vendors.
My company, WarehamWelds, hopes to become part of this exciting trend. (and no that’s not the name of my food truck, it’s my metal fabrication and design business).