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Peoria wants food trucks and food carts to return to downtown. Here’s the plan


“I did some days down there last year and we did great. We had OSF employees, courthouse employees, CAT employees and obviously the reason we were down there was the concert series and we did great.”

The city of Peoria is still trying to breathe life back into what was once a staple of downtown.

Once upon a time upwards of 15 food trucks and carts could be found in Downtown Peoria on any given day, but the COVID-19 pandemic dropped that number down to zero in 2020.

In the years since the pandemic, food trucks have been slow to return to Downtown Peoria, but the City Council is making an effort to draw them back. Peoria will waive fees for food trucks and food carts again in 2024 in hopes of incentivizing their return to downtown.

The city will also add the south side of the 300 block of Hamilton Boulevard and the west side of the 100 block of SW Adams Street as locations food trucks can operate.

Peoria has made this effort before but to little avail. In 2022, no food trucks returned to Downtown Peoria after fees were waived and locations were added.

More: At its height, Downtown Peoria was a commercial powerhouse

Stephen LeMasters, who operates Grill ’em All food truck, said food trucks find success when they’re downtown, but parking around the Peoria County Courthouse is a hurdle.

The metered parking around the courthouse is not guaranteed for food trucks outside of certain events, making it somewhat of a gamble for food trucks to find a spot, LeMasters said.

“It’s parking meters so you can’t really put it on a schedule and hope,” LeMasters said. “You may not even be able to get a place to park.”

LeMasters said the waiving of fees is good for the food truck and carts but reserved parking spots for food trucks would be a significant enticement for operators.

“For a truck to just say ‘hey we’re going to get set up down there’ it’s a gamble because you don’t know if you’re going to get a spot unless you want to show up at 5 a.m. and just kind of hang out,” LeMasters said.

Food trucks were in downtown last year for the Regional Office of Education’s Spring Celebration but in general did not return to the levels they once were. LeMasters said the food trucks saw great success in Downtown Peoria, especially when there were events.

“I did some days down there last year and we did great,” LeMasters said. “We had OSF employees, courthouse employees, CAT employees and obviously the reason we were down there was the concert series and we did great.”

More: Once a vibrant shopping district, this section of Downtown Peoria needs reinvestment

Grill ’em All and The Station Food truck will be in Downtown Peoria for about five weeks beginning April 22. LeMasters said if people are interested in seeing more food trucks return to downtown, they should come out and support the trucks.

“There were some days last year where it was just the two trucks and we couldn’t keep up, there was just so many people down there,” LeMasters said. “I think it just kind of has to be an organic thing where people start showing back up, that’s patrons and vendors. They have to take the plunge, so to speak.”



This article was originally published by a www.pjstar.com . Read the Original article here. .

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