Park[ed] creates permanent food truck venue in OTR

As crowds soak up free concerts, performances and movies in the new Washington Park, starting this Friday night, they’ll be able to soak up their favorite food truck fare there, too.

That’s when, during the Friday night concert, the parking lot for the non-profit Emanuel Center on Race Street will transform into the inaugural Park[ed], by The City Flea, starting at 7 pm. 

Located just across the street from the Park’s main stage, the lot typically sits empty after business hours and on weekends. During Park[ed], local food truck vendors will set up shop there and sell menu items perfect for taking right back to the park.

“There’s huge demand for something to eat,” says organizer Nick Dewald, half of the dynamic duo behind The City Flea  (with his wife Lindsay). Once he learned that Emanuel staff was interested in finding new ways to connect more with Washington Park and the community, he set out to create Park[ed].

While he loves the restaurants on Vine and Main streets, he notes the lack of “grab and go” foods that would be ideal for park events like the Over the Rhine concert that drew thousands of fans to the Park.

“This is giving people a quicker option,” he says. “If you leave the park to go find food, there’s a decent chance you won’t come back.”

Since he was already connected with nearly all of the city’s food truck vendors through The City Flea, he asked owners what they thought of the idea. “Everybody was on board,” he says. 

From staples like Café de Wheels and Turophilia to newcomers like C’est CheeseQueen City Cookies and Eat Mobile, the options will vary from event to event and night to night. “We’re open to having every mobile vendor in the city take part in some way or another,” says Dewald.

Offerings will vary based on the occasion, the size of crowd expected and the availability of vendors, Dewald says, but high demand could dictate more hours and more options. 

“It could turn into a nightly thing,” he says. “It’s all about making it work for the vendors as well.”

For his part, Dewald will set up a calendar for the space and publicize it, using a new Twitter handle to announce which trucks will be on site for specific events. Plans also include adding some atmosphere—some lighting, a couple of tables, music and maybe even a cornhole set or a ping pong table to keep patrons occupied while they wait for their orders. 

“We’re not looking to become a place to come and hang out,” Dewald says. His goal is to provide a consistent space for food trucks to vend while satisfying the hunger of Park guests and neighbors in Over the Rhine. 

“We like this proximity to the park so much,” he says.

Since alcohol sales in the park help pay for its operations, he has no plans to add alcohol to Park[ed]’s offerings. Dewald says the trucks will be set up and serving by 7 pm, and plans to keep them running till 10 pm on nights when events occur in Washington Park.

Find out the schedule and day-by-day options by following @eat_PARKED on Twitter.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.