Although the scene at The Little Fleet is a private space, the way that the space functions is – as a friend of mine once observed – more like an extension of the park system than purely a business. This is one reason the image was chosen to rotate among the banner images on the website: it’s one of Traverse City’s newest great places and helps make TC unique… it used to be just a parking lot.
It also speaks to many civic values that attract not only visitors, but helps to attract and retain residents. Not just the space, but food trucks in general represent lively, social, and active communities. They are cross-generational, family friendly, and celebrate being out and active in the community. They are certainly a unique option for a foodie town and this past season drew a little more positive attention to Traverse City (NY-CBS).
In the latest fall issue of Edible Grande Traverse, a magazine I regularly freelance for, I authored a celebratory piece about food trucks. The images here are from that assignment.
Last spring’s debate about food trucks eventually led to the passing of an ordinance that clarified permit fees and locations, including some on-street locations downtown. Public policy that allows for new innovations is an example of how the City can support small business owners. Now, established restaurants are opening trucks to experiment and branch out and young entrepreneurial chefs are putting their tastes out there for the world.
Also, the food truck scene creates a natural connection to NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute. This is exactly the route the co-owner of Friends with Food, Becky Tranchell, took this past summer. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute, she was last working as a personal chef in New York when she heard that Traverse City was considering opening up its policy on food trucks. When it was settled this past spring she acted.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant, so when the ordinance passed I jumped,” she said.
City support for food trucks is one example of applying the principles of placemaking to creating a stronger Traverse City. It’s why the Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded $78,000 in grants for food trucks across the state recently – two of which were awarded locally to newbie, Fresh Start, and TC’s food truck pioneer, Roaming Harvest.
It just makes sense to support innovation and diversity in our community. When it comes with a delicious and homegrown serving of social entrepreneurship, all the better.
If you agree that ideas like food trucks deserve support, please help our effort for a strong Traverse City and vote November 5 for Gary Howe.