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Last Burnside Park Beer Garden of the season

beer-garden

Photo from Greater Kennedy Plaza

After being extended for two more weeks, tonight is for real the last Burnside Park Beer Garden Music Series event of the year.

We’ve had a great season featuring a wide array of local music–clearly Providence has a wealth of talent! We have one more night for you on Thursday, Sept 19.

Grupo Sazon, is an amazing Latin band featuring master percussionist Jesus Andujar. This high energy band, with Latin and Cuban influences, have lit up the WaterFire stage twice this season to rave reviews! What a great way to end the park series and usher in Fall.

As always, relax before the show at the Trinity Brewhouse + Revival beer garden – serving locally brewed beer and wine starting at 4:30PM (music at 5:30PM)! Lawn games + food truck fare throughout – including Fancheezical, Lotus Pepper, Noble Knots, Panino Express + Like No Udder.

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Summer Solstice Celebration at Burnside Park, June 23

Summer SolsticeIt’s nearly time for the return of Burnside Park beer gardens, outdoor evening concerts and storytime mornings—along with a host of new programs starting this summer!

On June 23rd, 2012 Greater Kennedy Plaza and the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism are kicking off the summer season with the 1st Annual Summer Solstice Celebration On the Plaza! A FREE, all-day celebration including live art-making, family activities and performances, food trucks, the return of the Burnside Park Beer Garden and an evening of fun music! Details below!

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Report from Ship Street Square Farmer’s Market

Ship Street Square

Today was the first Farmer’s Market in Ship Street Square, run by Farm Fresh Rhode Island. It is early in the season yet, so the pickings were a little slim, but a lot of people were out. Who knew there were so many people in the Jewelry District? Well, I did, but it was still cool to see people arriving in the square from every direction.

There were a number of farm vendors, Olga’s Cup & Saucer with sandwiches and breads, Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ and Mijos Tacos food trucks, and the Coffee Guy serving up hot and iced.

The weather’s nice, but chilly and windy, making it less than comfortable to actually eat in the square. Also, the area is not really conducive to eating, you can sit on the steps, but it kinda sucks, they need to get some tables and chairs out there, or some high top tables for people to stand at during lunch. The square belonging to Brown, perhaps this is something they can provide so that it does not cost the vendors anything.

The market is on Tuesdays from 11am to 2pm. My understanding is this is a test run to see how it goes, so come out and support it so it can run through the summer.

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A likely unpopular take on Food Trucks

Bool BBQ truck
Photo (cc) stu_spivack

I’ve been watching the slow emergence of Food Truck culture in Providence and have mostly been happy about it. The Food Trucks popping up thus far have good food, they bring a certain cachet to the city, they are hip, young, fun, all the things Providence wants to be. However, in the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I don’t like about the Food Truck movement.

Payton at west north articulated my reservations pretty well:

I’m know it’s so very trendy, but I really don’t understand the fascination with littering Chicago with food trucks. I’ve found them quite annoying in NY and LA:

  • they don’t pay rent for the valuable public space they take up
  • they unfairly compete with fixed-premise restaurants, particularly since Chicago suffers from many miles of empty storefronts
  • they only go to trendy areas which already have lots of shops and foot traffic, thereby merely overcrowding existing transient hotspots and potentially preventing new areas from emerging
  • they leave clouds of diesel fumes and noise in their wake, since they run generators even when idling
  • they generate mountains of trash in said areas’ already-overflowing trashcans, since there’s no capacity for onboard dishwashing and few sidewalk recycling bins
  • they’d be yet more unwieldy vehicles careening through the streets, killing people in crashes.

I certainly don’t dispute the overall goals to have broadly available, inexpensive food and easing the way for entrepreneurs to open foodservice businesses. However, these goals frankly have nothing to do with adding more smelly trucks to already choked streets

Payton has a follow-up post expanding on his points above which I encourage you to read.

Like I said, there is something that really pleases me about the Food Truck movement, but the points Payton brings up bother me. Really, the biggest part is that we have so many vacant storefronts. A truck pulls up, creates some excitement and leaves. An occupied storefront contributes to the street activity always, think Farmstead on Westminster.

There are of course real barriers to opening a food based business in a brick and mortar location in Providence, which probably contributes to the quick adoption of food trucks here. One is regulation. Everyone I’ve talked to who has opened a business in Providence, or those whose business it is to get businesses to come to Providence, agree that the regulation is confusing and onersous, and discourages business creation. I’ve heard people who have located businesses here from away say they would never do it again and would tell others not to, not good.

The other barrier is the spaces themselves. Especially Downcity, but throughout town, there really aren’t many small hole in the wall retail spaces available. The kind of space where someone who runs a Food Truck might opt to settle down permanently. A counter and a few stools, those spaces don’t exist. So would-be restauranteurs are forced to pay rent on greatly outsized spaces that they don’t need.

I’m not saying Food Trucks should be banned, far from it. What I would like to see is, the city thinking about ways to encourage other forms of street food, be they micro-storefronts, push carts, Food Trucks, or something else.

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