Mar­ket East Plaza host­ing monthly food truck fes­ti­vals

Newark Post - - Local News - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

On any given week­end night, Main Street is abuzz with thou­sands of peo­ple head­ing down­town to pa­tron­ize the bars and restau­rants. How­ever, with most of the ac­tiv­ity con­cen­trated be­tween South Col­lege Av­enue and Chapel Street, busi­nesses on the east end of Main Street can feel a bit left out.

“Main Street seems to die when you get to Chapel Street, but there’s a lot go­ing on here,” said Joe Mur­ray, owner of Cap­tain Blue Hen Comics in Mar­ket East Plaza. “We’re try­ing to draw a lit­tle at­ten­tion to the fact that Main Street doesn’t end at Chapel Street.”

Key to that ef­fort is a se­ries of food truck fes­ti­vals or­ga­nized by Cap­tain Blue Hen and the other busi­nesses in the shop­ping cen­ter at 280 E. Main St.

Dubbed “#FoodDE Fri­days,” the events in­clude sev­eral food trucks as well as live mu­sic set up in the park­ing lot of the shop­ping cen­ter. The first event was held May 20, and the rest are set for June 17, July 15 and Aug. 19 from 5 to 9 p.m.

“This is just one of the awe­some events we’ll have on this end of Main Street,” said Kita Roberts, man­ager of Blue Hen Comics and the or­ga­nizer of #FoodDE Fri­days.

A self-de­scribed “foodie,” the Ne­wark na­tive has trav­eled around the world do­ing free­lance food writ­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy for a va­ri­ety of publi­ca­tions. She also runs two food web­sites, www. pass­the­sushi.com and www. girl­car­ni­vore.com.

Roberts said she has seen im­pres­sive food fes­ti­vals in other cities and is de­ter­mined to bring some of those ideas back home.

“I’ve been all over the world,” she said. “Now, it’s my job to make Ne­wark as cool as some of the other places I’ve seen.”

She said there’s a need for fam­ily-friendly events, not just on the east end of Main Street, but in Ne­wark as a whole.

“Food is com­mu­nity, and com­mu­nity is food,” she said. “The com­mu­nity is here, we just need to bring it out. Our job is to make it bet­ter.”

Last week’s event in­cluded three food trucks, Wild­wich, Ma­iale Deli and Salume­ria and Sweet Josephine’s. The Ne­wark Arts Al­liance sold beer and wine in­side its gallery in Mar­ket East Plaza.

At­ten­dance was less than the or­ga­niz­ers hoped for, but Roberts said she hopes the monthly event grows as the sum­mer pro­gresses.

Mike Stan­ley serves up home­made sand­wiches from his Wild­wich food truck. A vet­eran of the restau­rant in­dus­try, he’s seen Delaware em­brace food trucks and food truck fes­ti­vals over the past cou­ple years and has hope for the Mar­ket East Plaza events.

“We’re start­ing to change the cul­ture. They did it in L.A. and Seat­tle,” he said. “Wilm­ing­ton has started to take a look at what’s go­ing on. We’ll see how Ne­wark does.”

Billy Raw­strom, who was man­ning the grill at Ma­iale Deli and Salume­ria’s food truck, said he en­joys cook­ing at food truck fes­ti­vals.

“It’s a fun at­mos­phere,” he said. “It’s like tail­gat­ing.”

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Kita Roberts, who is or­ga­niz­ing monthly FoodDE Fri­day events at Mar­ket East Plaza, takes a pic­ture of her burger.

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