Food truck park with airplane views opens in Norton Shores
After months of planning and development, and some delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new food truck park has opened outside the Pointes Shopping Center in Norton Shores near the Muskegon County Airport.
Plane Watch Food Park opened to the public Friday, July 17, at 1100 E. Sternberg Road. Visitors are encouraged to buy their food and watch as planes soar overhead. The new park’s hours run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
It is a project of AMG Development, which owns the Pointes Shopping Center, located off U.S. 31 and near the intersection of East Sternberg and Grand Haven roads. The park is designed to attract business to the area, especially local employees taking their lunch breaks, said Jeff Zaloga, sales director at AMG.
“For a drive-thru, they could end up waiting for the better part of their lunch hour,” Zaloga said. “They could spend their time actually doing that, or they could get in and out of here without waiting for traffic.”
The outdoor food court features tables and colorful canopies overhead for shade, plus games like Jenga and cornhole.
Eventually, Zaloga said, the project’s owners anticipate setting up a stage for musical performances and permanent bathrooms. In the next few weeks, they will also install a sound system to pipe music through the area, with interruptions whenever a plane appears overhead.
Up to eight food trucks can be parked there at a time. On Tuesday, carnival-style trucks — selling pizza, fried dough, and ice cream — joined trucks selling tacos, burritos, seafood, burgers, shaved ice and freshly squeezed lemonade.
Kim Dufon and her daughter, Shauna, drove in from Grand Haven for the afternoon. They got pizza from Kate’s Pizza, tacos from Uncle Billy’s Taco Wagon and finished off with a bright blue shaved ice from Maui Waui Shaved Ice.
“I love supporting local,” Dufon said. She thought the concept was creative, and said she would return, especially if different trucks rotate through.
That’s part of the plan, Zaloga said. Some 70 prospective food vendors have been in touch with the company, and they’re working to bring in more specialty food options, rotating different vendors through depending on their needs. Some can be anchored for the full season — which runs through about October, Zaloga said — while others may be parked for limited-time stints.
Several of the stands on Tuesday are run by a carnival food company based in Florida. Working at one of those stands, Kate’s Pizza, Stephanie Daywalt said she would normally take the stand to different fun fairs this time of year. With the coronavirus pandemic canceling so many of those annual events, she said, the truck was likely going to stay in Norton Shores throughout the summer.
“We have some busy days, some slower days, but it’s been great,” Daywalt said. “As long as we keep getting people coming in, I think we’re planning on being here for the rest of the summer.”
Some of the trucks themselves opened just in time for the park. Maui Waui Shaved Ice is a week old, according to its owner, and the business plans to eventually expand to selling smoothies, milkshakes and ice cream in addition to colorful flavored ices.
Mike Crooks also opened his pirate-themed, seafood-focused truck, The Captain’s Wheel, last Friday. The Grand Rapids native spent ten years working in kitchens, including several in Muskegon County, before opening the truck last week, with a menu featuring unique items like the “Surfturfurger” (a patty mixing beef, chorizo and crab) and the “Juandaconda” (polish sausage on a bun, with chili and cheese).
“It’s been good, it’s been busy,” Crooks said. “It’s really exciting.”
Vendors interested in establishing a presence at the food park can apply through AMG by calling 231-799-4801. Rental fees include all utilities, which vendors can plug into directly at the park. Zaloga said they are also entertaining requests from standalone vendors who do not need plug-ins, like those using small portable grills or smokers.
The Pointes Shopping Center, purchased by AMG in 2018, is situated in a regional mall shopping corridor, and is home to restaurants, stores, offices and beauty and fitness businesses.
Zaloga said there had been some concern from restaurants in that strip — such as Egg Roll House, a Chinese restaurant, and the Rec Room, a health food joint — that food trucks would cause competition. But Zaloga said the park will attract newcomers to the property.
Those who want an outdoor experience can check out the food trucks, he said, while others might be drawn in by the colorful park before ultimately deciding they would prefer to sit comfortably in air conditioning.
Of course, those decisions are partly driven by the state’s restrictions on indoor dining, issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that sense too, Zaloga said, the park’s timing was lucky. They offer an outdoor eating option at a time when many restaurants are being forced to expand outdoor and takeout options anyways.
“People feel safer outdoors than they do indoors, for good reason,” Zaloga said. “And it’s easier to social distance outdoors than it is inside.”
Posted By: mlive on July 28, 2020. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
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