The scene alongside New Haven’s Lengthy Wharf is a well-recognized sight for anybody driving alongside I-95: a protracted line of vivid meals vehicles with the flags of Mexico and Puerto Rico waving within the breeze. On a sunny weekend day, lunchtime is a full sensory expertise: fluttering material banners promoting specialties like birria tacos and churros, the aroma of meats cooking on flattop grills, upbeat salsa and reggaeton music enjoying on automobile stereos.
“Meals Truck Paradise” is a group of cell eateries overlooking the water on Lengthy Wharf Drive, that includes an array of meals choices with an emphasis on Latin American cuisines. For greater than twenty years, a rising listing of vehicles have been calling Lengthy Wharf house, serving up inexpensive eats like burritos, empanadas, quesadillas and Cuban sandwiches.
The vacation spot has grown over the previous 20 to 25 years, metropolis officers mentioned, noting the primary distributors to park there have been a flower salesman and Sweeney’s Scorching Canine — which continues to be serving up scorching canines in the present day.
“There was an natural group of meals vehicles that had been profiting from the freeway location,” mentioned Michael Piscitelli, New Haven’s financial growth administrator. Officers, together with former Mayor Toni Harp and metropolis engineer Giovanni Zinn, helped revitalize the realm with funding in its infrastructure, together with the set up of energy stations to get rid of the vehicles’ use of gas-powered turbines.
“I feel it was that the primary part of this work on Lengthy Wharf was to create this stability of it retaining a little bit of its natural magnificence and character, however giving it some formality,” Piscitelli mentioned.
Vans obtain a parking website license by means of town’s Particular Merchandising District program, mentioned Steve Fontana, New Haven’s deputy financial growth director, and so they pay a charge for the yr for the best to park in a specific location.
Twenty-eight vehicles have obtained permits to park at Lengthy Wharf in 2023, in response to town. Official merchandising hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., however the enterprise house owners are in any other case free to decide on which days they need to be there.
“I daresay on weekends in the summertime, you’re going to see everyone (all 28 vehicles) there, as a result of that’s when the hundreds of individuals come,” Fontana mentioned.
New Haven additionally plans future growth of the location, due to a $12.1 million grant introduced in April. Lengthy Wharf Drive might be changed by a 20-foot-wide promenade alongside the water, with a big garden, a market, and a greater, extra devoted space for the meals vehicles which have made Lengthy Wharf such a preferred spot lately, Zinn mentioned at a press convention saying the undertaking.
As an alternative of Lengthy Wharf Drive as a by means of avenue, the realm could have a “woonerf,” or “dwelling avenue,” a Dutch-style slow-moving drive that may combine visitors from motor autos, pedestrians and bicycles, Zinn mentioned. Building will begin on the undertaking subsequent yr.
Eduardo Aguayo, co-owner of La ChickyMunchy together with his spouse, Jenny, has been parking at Lengthy Wharf for six years. Their meals truck serves Puerto Rican “Grandma-style” fare, and the truck is called for Aguayo’s mom, whose nickname was Chicky, quick for Chiquita. Earlier than they moved to the waterfront website, they had been merchandising at New Haven’s Criscuolo Park.
The couple is a group of two, with Jenny cooking and Eduardo dealing with orders and funds. They’ve many common prospects, together with truck drivers touring alongside I-95 who cease by for his or her scratch-made dishes like pinchos (grilled meat skewers), empanadas and contemporary tropical fruit juices.
Due to their dedication to contemporary meals cooked to order, and what Aguayo calls their “flawless, glowing clear” truck, they’ve restricted themselves to simply Thursday by means of Sunday at Lengthy Wharf. With out additional employees, he mentioned it’s too troublesome to open each day.
Aguayo mentioned he welcomes town’s deliberate adjustments for the meals truck vacation spot. “It’s nice to work at Lengthy Wharf,” he mentioned. “We simply want extra facilities, stuff like that, locations folks can sit and eat.”
Beneath is a take a look at the vehicles most not too long ago seen posted up at Lengthy Wharf (on three separate events) adopted by a listing of cell eateries which have additionally secured 2023 permits.
Observe: vehicles’ appearances at Lengthy Wharf are sometimes topic to climate and house owners’ schedules.