From snow cones to pulled pork sandwiches and Puerto Rican cuisine, more than 100 food lovers filled the 14th Street Pedestrian Bridge and Plaza Friday for the grand opening of food trucks on the riverfront in Phenix City.
Six trucks and trailers were parked near the Riverfront Courtyard Marriott where lines starting forming before the 5:30 p.m. kickoff of the city's first mobile food trucks. Trucks will fill the area for the next 18 months before a full service restaurant and other road improvements are completed, said Steve Smith, finance director of Phenix City.
Most residents who stopped by the mobile food truck said the idea is long overdue.
"I love it," said Vera Butler, a resident of nearby Riverview Court Apartments. "I called my friends to come over here. They should have been did this."
Butler, 67, said the food trucks will keep her from cooking on the days they are on the riverfront.
"I will come every day," she said. "I won't have to cook."
Retired Columbus police officer Joseph Goodwin stopped by the riverfront to get a snow cone to cool off.
"It's pretty convenient," he said. "It's
right on the river and right here in Alabama."
Dave Bruce said he had a chance to sample two of the trucks before the grand opening, Paradise by the River, a Puerto Rican food truck, and Deez Buttz, a barbecue and catering truck.
"I think it's great," said Bruce, a native of New York. "It's something a lot of metropolitan areas have around the country. It's something that would be good for this area and it's a little bit different variety and options of eating out."
Bruce said the food on the trucks is reasonably priced and it's good. They are a good fit for him because he doesn't like sit-down restaurants.
Liz Camacho of Phenix City said she and her husband, Enrique, were excited about their Paradise by the River food truck, an idea that surfaced while they lived in Miami.
"When we came home, that is what he wanted to do," she said. "I just wanted to support it. That is what he wanted to do."
Enrique is an Army brat and native of Puerto Rico where he spent the majority of his life. On the truck, Liz said customers can get the favorite tripleta, a three-meat sandwich filled with steak, pork and ham. The Pinchos, a chicken or pork kabob in Spanish barbecue sauce or hot sauce, is another favorite.
Some of the other trucks featured Spices Caribbean cuisine, Top Chef Cafe, Po-Boy Sandwiches and others.
Smith said the city is looking to prepare other sites for food trucks, possibly two or three locations. "As time goes on, we will have more than one spot," he said.
Later this summer, Smith said a $150,000 observation deck is planned on the Riverwalk and officials hope to build it this summer. Troy University also will bring students downtown to the city during the day and night.
Food trucks will be available when the park is open. Hours for the park are set from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"We will expand those hours if the demand is there," Smith said. "This has never been done in the Columbus-Phenix City area so there is a learning curve for all of us. If we get demand to open more, we will. It's a win-win for everybody."