Food trucks get a place to call home in Tampa

A new “Food Truck Square” will have its grand opening on Feb. 23 on W Platt Street.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

A new “Food Truck Square” will have its grand opening on Feb. 23 on W Platt Street.

TAMPA — The food trucks have found a home.

Several roving food trucks have joined with the brick and mortar Monstah Lobstah to establish a "Food Truck Square" at 1901 W Platt St., where several trucks will converge to offer lunch and dinner delicacies seven days a week.

Although the square officially opened Monday, a grand opening is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 23.

Organizers expect large crowds and several locally known trucks, including Burger Culture, Tasty Stacy, Wicked Wiches, Killer Samich and Mr. Empanada, to turn out for the big event.

The concept of a daily congregating point for food trucks is new to the Tampa Bay area, but not unusual in other cities with thriving food truck cultures, such as Miami and Orlando.

Having multiple trucks in one place, owners said, is more likely to attract business.

Monstah Lobstah, a New England seafood restaurant, owns the property and has designated the lot for food truck use.

"We've been wanting to get something like this going for a while," said Tasting Tampa blogger Todd Sturtz, who has helped organize many of the rallies around Tampa Bay. "It's great to see (Monstah Lobstah) jump in and help this along."

Monstah Lobstah owner Allen Berube hopes that bringing food trucks and their devoted following to the area will create more of a vibrant food culture.

"There will be more energy and more opportunity," Berube said. "You want to be in a busy area that's known as a place to go eat. It's a numbers game."

Not all restaurateurs feel that way.

Across the bay, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce has devised a task force charged with addressing the issue of food trucks rolling into town.

Several restaurant owners have expressed concerns about the trucks stealing their business or being at an unfair advantage.

Berube said by establishing a partnership with the trucks, everyone wins.

"These trucks attract people," he said. "And we want people."

Organizers acknowledged that competition will steepen with so many food options in such close proximity.

But when people know they have options, they'll keep coming back, said Shelby Stroud, a Wicked Wiches food truck employee.

"It's convenient," she said. "By having one spot where all these food trucks are going to be, people will know when and where to find us."

Food truck schedules and the Food Truck Square's lineup will be announced using social media on Facebook and Twitter pages, which have been driving forces behind the food truck phenomenon.

Contact Marissa Lang at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Food trucks get a place to call home in Tampa 02/15/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 11:51pm]

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