Food trailer court planned for Barton Springs Road

Jan 29, 2014
Austin American Statesman

Some of Austin’s best-known food trailers will have a new home on Barton Springs Road, on a site that once housed a children’s amusement park in the 1950s and more recently, the Mobile Manor RV park


The partners behind the project are Alastair Jenkin, Christian Brooks, Kurt Simons and Ronnie Brooks. Ronnie Brooks told the American-Statesman the food trailer park will be built on the south end of a 3 acre site where the Coldwater apartment project is under construction, just east of Chuy’s restaurant and a block from Zilker Park


The food court — which will be called The Picnic — is scheduled to open in March and house eight vendors: The Mighty Cone; Hey Cupcake!; Turf N Surf Po’Boy; Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?; Tapas Bravas; The Seedling Truck; Skinny Limits Juice and Ms P’s Electric Cock, which serves fried chicken. Some of those vendors were previously on South Congress Avenue, but were displaced when construction started on a hotel on the site


With Barton Springs Road being home to homegrown restaurants like Chuy’s and Shady Grove, and with Austin’s rise on the national food scene, Brooks said there was keen interest from corporate chains in having a presence along the strip. But when the food trailers were forced to leave South Congress, Brooks said, “that made us re-think what we wanted to do.”


The Picnic will feature passive-solar dining pavilions, large fans, 80 parking spaces and air-conditioned restrooms. All eight vendors have signed leases, said Brooks, who is also a partner in Kurt Simons Co. that’s developing the 225-unit Coldwater luxury apartment complex on the site. The first apartment tenants are expected to move in late this spring


The partners are making an investment of “several hundred thousand dollars” in the food-trailer project, Brooks said, though he declined to disclose the exact amount. A long-term commitment to operating a food court was a major factor in attracting the trailers, Brooks said


Sites for food trailers and food trucks in South Austin have been diminishing for some time, Brooks said, and with the current boom in downtown construction that trend is expected to continue, he said


Eric Regan who with his wife Lizziane Abreu-Regan own Hey! You Gonna Eat or What? said they are excited about relocating their business from its current site next to Perla’s on South Congress


“I think it’s going to be the center of the food truck universe in Austin when it opens,” Regan said of The Picnic. “The cast of characters they have all have a following and a certain draw. It’s a good mix.”


Last year, the Regans’ business won Truck By Truckwest, Austin’s first foo -truck taste-off, taking home a $10,000 grand price. And The Daily Meal, a food blog, ranked it No. 89 among the 101 Best Food Trucks in America in 2013.


Perry Ray, owner of Ms P’s Electric Cock on South Congress, will expand to The Picnic with a new addition, Mini P, which also will serve fried chicken. Perry said the new location was appealing, offering “plenty of car and foot traffic.”


“With the extra amenities planned for the site, we believe The Picnic will provide a constant and sustainable stream of visitors for Mini P,” Ray said. “We think all this will contribute to growing our revenue exponentially.”


In the 1950s, the Ken Wallace family operated Kiddieland Park on the property, and later an RV park. Another nearby RV park on Barton Springs Road was displaced a few years ago by a new condominium project


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