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Permanent parking, mobile food

Food truck park wins DDRC approval.

Devon Green April 18th, 2014

A plan to create a permanent food truck park in Midtown passed the Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC) on April 17. The creator, Hunter Wheat, based it on other permanent food parks around the country, including places like New York, the Dallas/Ft. Worth-area and Austin, Texas.

A food truck dining area in Dallas.
Photo Provided

“After almost a year of planning, we found out today that it’s really happening,” Wheat said after the DDRC decision.

The idea gained momentum after the success of H&8th Night Market, a monthly event in the spring, summer and fall in Midtown.

Wheat looked at H&8th and thought, “This is great. What if we had this all the time?”

That spurred the idea for Bleu Garten, an outdoor food truck park at NW 10th Street and N. Harvey Avenue.

It has been a year since Wheat put pen to paper, and now those plans are becoming a reality.

The name Bleu Garten is a nod to Wheat’s training at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Ore., and the German word for garden, which is a common name for community gathering places.

What Bleu Garten is not going to be is a parking lot. The plans include actual restrooms and community dining areas, some of them covered. Wheat has already signed on for a three-year occupancy, and the park will operate year-round. With approval from the DDRC, Wheat’s next step is to obtain permits. He and his team plan to break ground on the property in the next month. If all goes as planned, Bleu Garten will open in August.

Wheat spent some time visiting other food truck parks in New York to get ideas on how to winterize the concept. He came away with some useful knowledge about how to get the area ready for the season and entice patrons into venturing out. There is talk of including the igloos from the Holiday Pop-Up Shops for sheltered eating areas.

The plan is to vary the number of trucks parked there depending on the day of the week. On the busiest nights, the park will accommodate eight. On a Monday afternoon, there might be only two open for business. There are plans for a beer barn and a full bar, and Wheat said they want to emphasize local breweries and distilleries.

He is very excited about the potential for Bleu Garten to be a gathering place for the community. He is also cautious about his role as the person responsible for the project and how it will impact the community.

“This is a three-year deal, and this is my first time in the captain’s seat,” Wheat said. “I can’t afford to run it irresponsibly.”

He already has plans to host events like pet adoptions and fundraisers that will involve the community, as well as theme nights that incorporate his neighbors in the Midtown area. There’s also talk of an outdoor movie screen for family movie nights.

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