Jax Truckies Downtown Food Truck Rally This Weekend!

June 4, 2012 31 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

This weekend, food trucks from all over North Florida will be serving up unique, gourmet food to the hungry masses of Jacksonville in the first food truck rally to be held in downtown. Food trucks in Jacksonville offer a tremendous and affordable variety of hand-crafted, artisan foods. The Jax Truckies will offer a unique opportunity to try a variety of delicious, high end foods at drive-through prices. In addition, author autographed copies of Metro Jacksonville's recently released book, Reclaiming Jacksonville, will be available for all interested parties.

Jax Truckies is embarking on a partnership with downtown restaurateur Gallery Restaurant Group, owners of Burrito Gallery, Uptown Market and El Gato Grande.  The rally is designed to be a demonstration event that creates mutually beneficial partnerships with nearby restaurants and retailers.  Not only do food trucks provide consumers with options and spur job creation by offering a cost-effective way to create a small business, but they also contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhoods they serve.

Participants are asked to contribute a $1 donation to Second Harvest for the purchase of a wrist band allowing admission into the event. The mission of Second Harvest North Florida is to distribute food and grocery products to hungry people and to educate the public about the causes and possible solutions to problems of domestic hunger.  1 in 6 adults experience food insecurity each day in America and 1 in 4 children don’t know where their next meal will come from.  Second Harvest provides food to more than 170,700 individuals annually – or an estimated 31,400 weekly. One dollar donated to Second Harvest generates seven meals, or the equivalent of two days of food for a person in need.

Highlights include 5 new trucks that were not at the first event (link first event), several vendors offering vegetarian options and a really cool ice cream truck adding to the vibe that the event will be both adult friendly and family friendly.  Vendors include:
3 Mom's Ice Cream

Super Food Truck

Sprocket's Food Truck

Gourmet Aviator

Corner Taco

On The Fly

Mother Fletcher's

Monroe's BBQ

Mike B's

Driftwood BBQ

Why Downtown?

Fresh off the heels of April's successful Jax Truckies rally in Riverside, this event is intended to be a demonstration of  how the food truck industry can be a positive in adding foot traffic and small business growth opportunities in downtown for an affordable cost, while being a positive to both trucks and brick & mortar businesses.

“This is a one-day event to bring attention to Downtown and to familiarize others about how food trucks can contribute to the fabric of our community,” said organizer Mike Field.  Adding, “These innovative entrepreneurs want to inject some flavor into Jacksonville’s neighborhoods, and downtown certainly needs the help.  We’re so appreciative of Burrito Gallery’s commitment to our city and to be able to also raise money for such a worthy cause like Second Harvest only adds to the transformational nature of this event.  With everyone’s help, we can stamp out hunger in North Florida”

Jacksonville isn't the only city with a growing gourmet food truck scene.  

Many cities, such as Denver, have utilized their popularity to serve as micro-entrepreneurs in the revitalization of their downtowns.  Why? Because, food trucks have been proven to bring pedestrian traffic into areas that haven't typically seen much pedestrian traffic, such as downtown Jacksonville.  Many cities, such as Denver, have utilized their popularity to serve as micro-entrepreneurs in the revitalization of their downtowns.

This gives us an opportunity to see how other communities are modifying their zoning ordinances and regulations to integrate food trucks into their urban environments in a positive manner.  One city that Jacksonville's leaders should keep an eye on is Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Kalamazoo is Southwest Michigan's largest city and its downtown is home to the country's first urban pedestrian mall.  Like Jacksonville, Kalamazoo has historically not allowed food trucks on public streets.  However, City staff is now in the process of creating a draft ordinance to allow food truck vendors to operate in designated areas, similar to what Jacksonville does for downtown hot dog stand vendors.

According to Kalamazoo City Planner Andrea Augustine, "Food trucks are really popular and I think they have a potential to increase vibrancy and liveliness on the street. We want to both allow for entrepreneurialism and allow for vibrancy, but also be respectful to existing businesses."

With this in mind, Kalamazoo is considering modifying their zoning regulations to create a situation where food trucks would rent space on downtown public streets in the same way there would be rent for a restaurant.  However, the designated sites would not be directly in front of brick and mortar restaurants.

Food trucks serve as a low barrier to entry for someone who's considering coming into the food business.  In addition, they are an affordable option utilized by brick and mortar restaurants to expand their product offerings to different areas of town.  Best of all, they have a following that an instantly put a steady stream of feet on underutilized parking lots and seldom used sidewalks.  Two things that Jacksonville has an abundant supply of.  Kalamazoo has taken an approach of creating a situation that is a win win for downtown vibrancy, brick and mortar businesses and food trucks.  This demonstration rally is to illustrate why Jacksonville should seriously consider doing the same.

Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/05/kalamazoo_food_trucks.html

“Having activities Downtown and creating opportunities to experience our Downtown has been a focus of Gallery Restaurant for nearly a decade. We are happy to support anything positive in the core. We also appreciate those who come Downtown and support our business, our retail neighbors, and producers whose events bring traffic to our emerging city center” says Paul Shockey of Gallery Restaurant Group.

Reclaiming Jacksonville Book Signing

Last but not least, there have been several inquiries about the availability of Metro Jacksonville's recently released book Reclaiming Jacksonville, Stories Behind The River City's Historic Landmarks.

The Jax Truckies Downtown Food Truck Rally will also host a public book signing by authors Ennis Davis and Robert Mann.  Learn more about Reclaiming Jacksonville

Article by Ennis Davis