For those who didn't get their fill of food trucks at the Downtown Food Truck Throwdown over the weekend, there will soon be ample opportunity to sample their wares in a centralized location — with the Newton Food Truck Park, 815 N. Main, set to officially open on July 1.
Stephen Owens, state representative and owner of OCC Ventures, owns the building next door to 815 N. Main. So, when the city was dealing with the dilapidated building that used to be on that property, Owens saw an opportunity. Once the lot was cleared, he purchased the land at a tax sale and had a few ideas initially for how to reinvigorate it — with a popular trend helping provide some inspiration.
"The idea of just turning it into a kind of downtown park morphed into the idea of just turning it into a food truck park," Owens said.
While still a week out from opening, Owens said people have taken notice and been congregating at the park — which he hopes will drive the interest of food trucks to set up at the location.
Food trucks interested in utilizing the park can register at FeedNewton.com and Owens noted it is a pretty simple process to reserve one of the two stalls on site.
"It's really self-sufficient, honestly. You go to feednewton.com. Through feednewton.com, you can decide whether you want to book the front spot or the rear spot depending on availability and then click through and see the available dates that are still open, select a date and, basically, you just pay and you print your receipt, put it in your windshield, park and sell food all day," Owens said. "The idea was to run electricity so that we didn't have to hear generators, so the bulk of the cost is simply just offsetting the electricity cost."
Reservation costs will be $50 for the front spot and $40 for the rear spot Monday through Thursday and $60/$50 Friday through Sunday. Hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to midnight Friday through Sunday. While electricity (and automated lights) and seating are provided, food trucks utilizing the park will have to bring their own trash receptacles.
Currently, food trucks in Newton have to find someone to lease space from in order to operate in Newton and Owens sees the park as giving them a more permanent, accessible location to set up at a minimal cost. Additionally, Owens said he has reached out to the Wichita Food Truck coalition about getting different, non-local food trucks to also utilize the park.
Not only is it about food, though, as Owens is also working with the Newton Murals and Arts Project — which is bringing its next installation to the location, a piece with an emphasis on first responders and focusing on what makes Newton great.
Drawing inspiration from the pop-up park in downtown Wichita, Owens is hoping the site will eventually grow to be more than just about the food trucks.
"The one in downtown Wichita is really popular; there's four or five trucks there everyday. Hopefully it will just be a great thing for the community, a great meeting place for the community and something to just help invigorate downtown," Owens said. "More than just another park kind of off the beaten path, this is downtown, this is prominent, this is Newton and I think it will just, hopefully, build the pride of Newton, being part of Newton and become a destination place where people want to come hang out and meet. We are Newton; let's be proud of who we are and what makes our town great."
To register or get more information on the Food Truck Park, visit feednewton.com.