It was a perfect day to head downtown Ann Arbor for lunch with my colleague, Liz, and sample some of the food at Mark’s Carts – a new business venture by the owner of the Downtown Home and Garden store, just a block off Main Street. If you have ever been to Portland, OR, Austin, or San Francisco, you have some idea of what I’m talking about. Portland boasts over 500 food carts scattered throughout the city, but Ann Arbor is just getting into the business with 5 initial carts (and plans to expand), but hey, you have to start somewhere!
To begin our little adventure, we checked out all the menus at each cart, and finally decided on a Thai cole slaw, Vegetarian Tagine and Paella Croquettes. Other choices ranged from Pork Paella, Tofu Noodle Salad w/peanut sauce to Asian Mushroom bun (don’t ask me what those are, you’ll have to try them!) If you prefer some of the old standbys, burritos and macaroni cheese are offered as well! With affordable prices of $2-$7, the food can’t be beat. Also, several carts highlighted the fact that their food is locally grown.
Once you get your food, tables, benches and scattered chairs invite you to stick around and enjoy the food right there. The lunch hour was just starting to kick off when we arrived around 11:30. By the time that we left at 12:15, it was packed.
It was clear by our first visit, that Mark’s Carts will quickly become a popular social gathering place as well as an opportunity to sample some great food. But this isn’t just all about the food. This is about offering opportunities to young entrepreneurs and bringing a community together to create a vibrant public space!
Colleen Layton is Director of Policy Development for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 734-669-6320 or by firstname.lastname@example.org.