Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Plans Lakefront Food Festival

Plan is to feature 6 to 10 food trucks at McKinley Marina in July or August.

By - Mar 17th, 2021 07:26 pm
The Fast Foodie at the Urban Island Beach Party. File photo taken August 3rd, 2012 by Jeramey Jannene.

The Fast Foodie at the Urban Island Beach Party. File photo taken August 3rd, 2012 by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s looking like Milwaukee County is going to host a food truck festival on the lakefront this summer.

Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman, chair of the Parks, Energy and Environment Committee, sponsored an amendment to the 2021 budget that called on the county parks department to organize food truck events during at least two weekends this summer on the lakefront

The amendment directed parks to look at the Bradford Beach parking lot or the McKinley Marina parking lot. A new report from parks indicated that the best plan would be to hold the events in the McKinley lot.

The large lot and ample green space in McKinley Park and the surrounding area would provide plenty of room to patronize the food trucks and maintain social distancing.

The event would conform to all existing public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. James Tarantino, director of business services for parks, told the parks committee Tuesday “with the pace of vaccinations and improving conditions around COVID-19 I feel confident today saying this is something we could begin in July and August.”

Because of the pandemic, many of the department’s permitting functions — for such things as special events — shut down. The department is planning to restart their permitting process this year, and Tarantino said the department has already discussed working on ways to use their permitting to “support food trucks.” This includes, he said, looking at ways to lower barriers for permitting that might help people “build wealth” in accordance with the county’s commitment to becoming the healthiest in the state by achieving racial equity.

For the proposed events, the department is looking to partner with six to 10 food trucks offering new food options that don’t compete with vendors already on the lakefront. Parks staff would sell beverages. The department estimates that between beverage sales and permitting fees, the department would make a net-profit of $1,000.

But Wasserman, after thanking the parks department for its work, offered a more bullish assessment: “I do want to make a bet that we’re gonna make more than $1,000 on this project.”

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