Kwanza Hall discusses our growing food truck culture


ATL Food Chatter: August 9, 2010
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Councilmember Kwanza Hall, whose District 2 encompasses Downtown and several adjacent neighborhoods such as the Old Fourth Ward, has also been one of the driving forces behind allowing food trucks in Atlanta to become mobile in their operations. When I heard that Atlanta’s first food truck permit had been granted, I reached out to the Councilmember (pictured right with Shaun Doty) to ask him about how he got involved in the food truck issue, and what are some of his future plans regarding the issue.

Q: How/when did you first become aware of the issue regarding the operation of food trucks in Atlanta?
KH: During the last election cycle, late summer/early fall of 2009. I always wondered why Atlanta, a great college town, doesn’t have food trucks scattered across the city like I experienced twenty years ago as a student at MIT, in Boston/CambridgeLast year, young volunteers from a number of local campaigns shared their stories with me about the food truck scene in other parts of the U.S. They made me nostalgic and, at the same time, got me thinking about the future.

Q: Why do you believe that this issue is important to Atlanta’s growth and development?
KH: Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Where others see a Korean taco served from a truck on Edgewood Avenue, I see a sustainable local economy with global influences and a great quality of life for residents, business owners, and tourists. I see urban farming and food preparation, entrepreneurialism, small business financing, green jobs, and new ways of creating community.

Q: Now that the first permit has been issued, what needs to happen next to continue the progress being made on this issue?
KH: We have work to do with the Fulton County Commission and county and state agencies to remove hurdles that continue to make it hard for food trucks to operate in the city. Inside the halls of government, the concerns I hear are about food safety and access to the public right of way. Other cities have figured out these issues satisfactorily. I’m sure Atlanta can as well. In the coming weeks, I will be introducing legislation to ensure that the city is doing all it can to support food trucks and to keep the momentum going.

Q: Any other plans to address issues regarding the improvement of Atlanta’s dining scene in the near future?
KH: The sector needs more training programs for underserved youth and young adults. I am also a believer in community kitchens/commissaries. I’d like to see us encourage farm-to-table and farm-to-school initiatives. I’m working with a small group of philanthropists, nonprofit experts, and a faith-based organization on a significant urban agriculture experiment in District 2. We should know more about that in the coming months. I’m taking a study tour to Cleveland later this month to learn more about their support for urban markets and agriculture. Finally, Atlanta’s rules on outdoor dining could do with some tweaking.

Q: Where do you eat when you are out and about in Atlanta?
KH: Great—but tough—question. I am all over the place. My council district alone has so much to offer. I’m afraid to start listing. Just list every restaurant and cafe in District 2! For sure, the monthly Urban Picnic at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, and other great vendors at the market including Frozen Cooley’s Lemonade, Afrodish, Miss D’s, The Greek, Cafe Campesino, Grindhouse Burgers. Also (with apologies to every place I frequent but have left out): Noni’s, Miso, Park’s Edge, Straits, Fritti, Shaun’s, Rathbun’s, Cafe Circa, Dynamic Dish, Edgewood Pizza, Rare, Dua Vietnamese, Highland Bakery, P’cheen, The Albert, The Porter, Rosa’s Pizza, Landon’s, Busy Bee, 285 West Soul Food … and of course my mom’s house anytime she is cooking.

Creative Loafing first reported that Yumbii—featuring Korean, Mexican and Southern flavors developed by chef Tomas Lee of Hankook Taqueria—was granted the first City of Atlanta permit for a food truck.

Two of the ATL’s budding stars, Kamal Grant (Sublime Doughnuts) and Kristen Hard (Cacao), were cited in a Food & Wine magazine feature called “Small Batch Superstars” that noted several of the South’s best new artisans who “are creating outrageously delicious food in their own small way.”

Buckhead. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that a Zaxby’s Chicken franchise is slated to open at 4380 Roswell Road.

Bennett Hollberg, formerly of the Atlanta Grill at The Ritz Carlton Atlanta, will be the opening chef at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse Atlanta, which is slated to open August 25th.

Cafe at Pharr is moving to larger digs (with plenty of parking) at 3145 Peachtree Road in the Buckhead Commons shopping center. The restaurant’s new location is set to open October 1.

Downtown. This month’s Atlanta Urban Picnic, featuring Atlanta’s aspiring street food vendors, will be held on Friday, August 27 at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market.

Tomorrow’s News Today
reports that a Cafe Intermezzo will open in the still under construction Hotel Indigo.
Grant Park. Besha Rodell first reported that chef Landon Thomas has left Ziba’s Wine Bar.

Midtown. The latest “official date” for the opening of Empire State South is Monday, August 30th.

John Kessler notes that Spice Market is no longer serving lunch.

Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that the Doc Green’s Salad and Grill on Ponce de Leon has closed and the location is slated to become a Real Chow Baby this fall.

Poncey Highland
. Hector Santiago has opened a sandwich shop, called Super Pan, below Pura Vida with an entrance on side street Blue Ridge Avenue.

Sandy Springs. Tomorrow’s News Today posts that KC Pit BBQ has closed.

Virginia Highland. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that Genki Noodles & Sushi is launching their third location in the current Everybody’s Pizza spot early next year.

Question of the Week: What type of food cart is outside of Midtown night spot Opera on the weekends?
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What much beloved Buckhead restaurant is looking for a new home?—is Souper Jenny