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Arts & Culture

Organizers Insist Akron's Summer Food-Truck Program Will Help Bricks-and-Mortar Restaurants, Too

photo of Shannon Brends
KABIR BHATIA
/
WKSU

A new weekly food truck festival begins in Akron this week, which could lead to a relaxing of the current rules.

The food trucks will be at Cascade Plaza in downtown Akron on Wednesdays, near the main library and the FirstEnergy building. Few of the trucks have been visiting downtown since the city enacted stricter rules in 2014. But those may be revisited if the summer “Cascade Cucina” is a success.

Shannon Brends owns The Slop Truck, and says the timing is right for the program.

“Akron got a new mayor, so that’s been a big driving force. And really, the demand is there. I mean, I can’t believe how many places I go – like gas stations – and people are always walking up to me and are super pumped. So yeah – Akron has got a movement going on right now.”

Working in Cleveland?
Brends adds that the success of Walnut Wednesdays in Cleveland – where rules are less stringent -- is further proof that the idea should work in Akron. She’ll be among the 13 trucks that will rotate – six at a time – on the plaza until September.

One of the goals of the 2014 rules was to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants from the added competition. But Matt Ulichney of the Square Scullery food truck says “Cascade Cucina” will be good for everybody.

“There’s roughly about 3,000 people that work directly downtown. A lot of them aren’t venturing outside to go to lunch; they just kind of pack their lunch and don’t take full advantage of what there is down there. There are quite a few brick-and-mortars and we’re hoping that by getting people to come out and start realizing there’s other things out there, it’s actually going to help everything down there.”

Ulichney and his wife, Heather, have led the charge to bring back the trucks.

The following trucks will be participating:

  • The Beachcomber
  • Cafe Arnone
  • Fuel Fork
  • The Orange Truk
  • Premier Crepes
  • The Slop Truck
  • Smash Time
  • Southern Thangs
  • Square Scullery
  • The Stone Pelican
  • S.W.A.T.
  • A Twist of Leona
  • Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food