By April Barbe | Jacksonville Progress
Move over Austin, Jacksonville wants a piece of the pie – and tamale, sandwich and taco!
On Friday, residents in Jacksonville ushered-in the city’s first mobile food park on Main Street to much fanfare.
“I think it’s awesome!” said Marc Farmer, president of the Jacksonville Development Corporation. “Everybody I’ve talked to that’s eaten there today (Friday) has loved it.”
Farmer said he thinks having a place downtown to eat will be beneficial to area businesses, as well.
“I think it’s a progressive move for downtown Jacksonville,” he said.
Owner Emily Farmer Griffin said the food park will be “open pretty much every day after that, as often and as much as the trucks can handle.”
She said Charcoal Alley can accommodate up to 10 trucks, depending on the vehicle’s size. The park will be open “when the first truck opens and the last one closes,” Griffin added.
On Friday, food truck vendors included Culinary Improv from Fort Worth, The Crawfish Cafe from Palestine, Curbside Taco from Tyler and Baxter’s BBQ from Jacksonville.
Eat A Bite from Rusk will be coming next week on a daily basis also, Griffin added.
Charcoal Alley is an example of turning lemons into lemonade, so to speak.
In 2013, Snaps Photography, owned by Griffin, burned at the location where Charcoal Alley is located.
Griffin said she had been at the location for three years with her photography business before the blaze. After the smoke cleared, the idea to create a food park in the space was generated by a relative, Griffin said.
“The food truck park was actually an idea of my mother-in-law’s, after reading about the difficulties the health department has regulating them all in different locations,” she said.
According to the Cherokee County Public Health Department, keeping track of sporadic food trucks around the city can sometimes be a chore.
Therefore, having one location for the vendors to congregate is beneficial.
And Griffin said she hopes eventually expand the park, as well.
“My goal is just to create a unique atmosphere for the town and a variety of great food. I hope to expand the area and eventually open a commissary to compliment the park,” Griffin said.