Friday, May 27, 2011

Howell Mill Food Park comes to Atlanta

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Concept for the Howell Mill Food Park
  • Courtesy Mark Lindenbaum
  • Concept for the Howell Mill Food Park

We’ve got the food trucks, and now we’re getting our very own place to park 'em. The Howell Mill Food Park is opening its doors (and windows, and trucks) on Tuesday, May 31 from 5 — 10 p.m. The food park will offer a choice of ten food trucks, many of them familiar — Yumbii, Sweet Auburn BBQ and Tex's Tacos will be in the mix.

The idea for the food park came from one Atlantan’s search for the parks he’d grown to love in places like Portland, Ore. and Austin, Texas. Mark Lindenbaum went to college in Texas, and when he came back to Atlanta, he was disappointed to see that the city lacked a real home for food trucks.

“It’s something Atlanta doesn’t really have — there’s not a dedicated spot, a destination,” he said.

So when his company purchased a grassy field last year at the corner of Howell Mill and Collier Road, Lindenbaum decided to change that. The field needed to be developed somehow, and he thought Atlanta’s first food park would be the perfect use for it. He partnered with Greg Smith, the founder of the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, and local marketing agent Brett Holtzclaw, and they developed the plan for the Howell Mill Food Park.

Now, the idea has taken off. The park has gotten governmental support from Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean and NPU-C Chairman Paul Melvin. It has its own Facebook page, which Lindenbaum said got 200 fans in its first two days. Facebook and Twitter are the main ways Lindenbaum is using to promote the food park, and so far, he thinks they’ve done their jobs. The Facebook page is filled with comments from excited locals who live “within walking distance” of the park.

Lindenbaum hopes the food park can grow from its spot on Tuesday nights into a more regular home for food trucks — a daily event that could serve breakfast, lunch and late night food. He’s looking to expand even beyond food trucks to incorporate local chefs, artists, retailers and musicians. But mostly, he said he just wants the park to evolve naturally into whatever Atlanta wants it to be.

We’ve watched the food truck movement struggle and take off in Atlanta over the past year, from the first food truck permit granted to Internet food truck backlash. A spot designated just for food trucks seems like a natural progression, and it'll be exciting to see how it turns out.

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