Food trends come and go. The Food Truck and Food Cart movement in America is often times called a trend. But, I disagree.
For hundreds of years, street food vendors have lined the streets and walkways of Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Mumbai, Berlin and Barcelona – providing quick, regional and affordable food for the “on the go” customer. It was fast food before there was fast food. In America, the popularity of mobile food has reached its boiling point. Maybe you’ve noticed it while traveling to other parts of the US (like NYC, San Francisco, Portland, Austin) or on multiple TV channels…the mobile food movement is alive and well. From gourmet French finger food, curry-laden comestibles, fish tacos, Korean BBQ, Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas to yes, even hot dogs – if you can dream it up, there’s a Food Truck or Food Cart out there for you.
At this very moment, Lexington city leaders are meeting to discuss Food Trucks and Food Carts. The Itinerant Merchant Task Force (funny name, huh?) is considering a “pilot program” that would allow Food Trucks and Food Carts in carefully zoned downtown areas for lunch and late night food vending.
So, why Food Trucks and Food Carts? Because, it’s so easy. The downtown core is alive for the first time in 20 years (since I lived here) and growing! The much overdue streetscape improvements have provided the perfect canvas to really make downtown Lexington unique and appealing. In fact, just glance at the architectural renderings for the downtown streetscape plan and you’ll see street food carts and vendors on every corner peppering the urban landscape. It’s as easy as making those drawings become reality. And yes, there’s red tape. There’s always red tape…but nothing creativity and critical mass can’t handle.
If you need a recent, nearby example of how Food Trucks and Food Carts can work for a community, look no further than Cincinnati. This time last year, they created three mobile food zones in order to bring people back to their urban core. After three wildly successful months, they added a fourth zone.
As Lexington continues to grow, the downtown core must become a beacon. A trip downtown must include something unique and enriching, whether it’s food, entertainment, culture or just socializing. The connection between downtown Lexington to UK and Transy has never been stronger. And with the Distillery District, an expanded Civic Center and a new Rupp Arena possibly on the way, the timing cannot get any better.
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