GREEN CITY SPRINGS – The city of Green Cove Springs was treated to an event that managed to capture the interest of over 400 unique visitors, consisting of both people that call the city home and those from outside of it, some driving from as far as Palatka and Orange Park to grab a bite to eat.
Food Truck Friday attendees brought their lawn chairs and coolers packed with beer, soda and water as they chomped down on the offerings of three different food trucks while watching Baker County band, The Lonely Highway, perform an eclectic mix of old and new country and more.
“I grew up in the area, moved to North Carolina and just moved back [to Green Cove Springs] in December and it is so exciting to see things like this happening,” Wanda Duncan said. “They need to keep doing these because I don’t know if you can tell, but there is a lot of community support for this event and events like this.”
The planning for Food Truck Friday began in January but it’s been in discussion since Planning and Zoning board member Ed Gaw and City Council member Van Royal bought two pieces of property in the city. According to Gaw, he and Royal discussed what they could do with these plots of land.
“We thought, ‘well, the city just put $2.1 million into Spring Park and there’s two vacant plots across from the park and right next to the theater and city hall.’,” Gaw said. “The land was strategically located and Van and I jumped on it and now, we’ve got Food Truck Friday.”
Gaw said the event far exceeded any and all expectations he and the city had. In fact, all three of the food trucks in attendance sold out of all their food. Area restaurants also saw a bump in business. Ronnie’s, La Casita and Corner Pocket – which are in a one-to-two block area – all found themselves with fairly robust dinner traffic as well.
While everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves, there as one concern: will there be more trucks?
According to Gaw, there will be a significant increase in food trucks. He expects a minimum of seven trucks at the next Food Truck Friday on May 11. He also plans to have different food truck offering different foods at each event.
“I know some people wanted more trucks but with food trucks, it’s very tricky for a first-time event like this,” Gaw said. “Food trucks have to know how many people will be there and they determine if it’s worth it for them. It’s a negotiation but now that we know the success of the event, there will certainly be more next time.”
Lee Varn drove from Orange Park to attend the event and while he wished that there were more options available, he was impressed with the available offerings, which included a sno-cone, cajun and cuban food trucks.
“I mean, this is great,” Varn said, taking another bite of his freshly-made Cuban sandwich. “Next time, I hope there are more trucks here and I’m sure there will be but it’s okay because this is delicious. It’s great.”
Not only were the consumers in attendance happy, but the food truck operators were as well.
“We’re from Jacksonville and we do events like this quite often but this is fantastic,” said AJ of Cajun Cravings To Go. “These kind of events help build communities and obviously, the more people that show up, the better it is for everyone, including us.”
While the food trucks in attendance were making money, Gaw said money isn’t a priority for the city in terms of Food Truck Friday. According to Gaw, it is a Green Cove Springs promotional event. He said it’s for the people of the area, and outside of it, to come and enjoy the town and see how far it has come. Eventually, Gaw anticipates the event being such a hit that both the west side and the east side of Walnut Street will be used to host food trucks and a band at each side.
“This is only the beginning. Food Truck Friday will help bring people to this wonderful city,” Gaw said. “Looking down the road, this event is going to do nothing but grow.”