Minka, a new food truck park featuring mobile vendors and family entertainment could open as soon as this summer on the corner of 38th and Vliet Streets in the Cold Spring Park neighborhood.
Behind the project is Mario Diaz Herrera, owner of Triciclo Peru and the associated Pachamama frozen empanada businesses, who says the food truck park is yet another step forward in his investment in the Near West Side neighborhood.
“When we started this business, our goal was to get our brand out there in as many places as possible,” he says. “But now, two years later, the business is more established here on the Near West Side and we’re refocusing our energy on improving our neighborhood.”
Minka means “market” in Quechua, the indigenous language spoken primarily by people in the Peruvian Andes. And it’s an appropriate name for the neighborhood food truck park, says Diaz Herrera, because it embodies the goals for the project: to be a collaborative community destination where folks can gather together for food and entertainment.
To complete the project, Diaz Herrera will be working with Keith Schultz of SchultzWerk Architecture and property owner Tom Straub of CMS Contracting LLC., the contractor and developer who has headed up several projects in the neighborhood including the location for Triciclo Peru and Pete’s Pops.
Pending approval from the City of Milwaukee, as well as the necessary licensure to operate the onsite bar, Diaz Herrera says the goal is to have the park up and running by June or July.
A peek at the plans
The location for Minka Food Truck Park includes a large swath of green space along with two structures (a small retail building and a former residential home). The lot has been partially activated in recent years as a picnic area and greenspace for local events.
But it will be entirely reenvisioned to include as many as eight food trucks, an indoor bar and an outside stage area for family-friendly entertainment.
The small retail building on the property facing Vliet street is slated to be transformed into a bar, says Diaz. It will function as the hub for the operation, offering inside seating and a place for guests to grab drinks and engage in conversation.
He plans to hire a local artist to create a vibrant mural for the side of the building, which faces 38th Street, which will depict various elements from the Andes mountains, as well as symbols – like the tiger – which represent the hard work of entrepreneurs and the working class.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the bar building, he’d like to see another mural. But this one would have a more interactive feel to it – a design that creates a space for Instagrammable moments.
On the food truck side, Diaz Herrera says that in addition to Triciclo Peru, which will have a presence at Minka, he would like to attract a mix of vendors serving items like tacos, burgers, bbq, plant-based and Asian fare.
“I know how hard it is to run a food truck business. And we want this to be a place that offers food truck owners a true home base,” says Diaz Herrera. “Over the years, Triciclo Peru has collaborated with a variety of local businesses, and we’ve seen the benefits that that brings. So the goal is to work together with other food trucks to create a place that benefits everyone.”
He says he would also like to further encourage the community, especially families, to see the Minka Food Truck Park as a place for them to come and spend time together.
“There is a lack of family entertainment in this area,” says Diaz Herrera, “So we’re hoping to bring in dance performances, live music and people who can come and host yoga classes at the food park.”
Diaz Herrera says that Minka Food Truck Park will be open all year round, offering picnic-like spaces for dining during the summer months and enclosed heated huts during the winter months.
He says he is also working with the Near West Side partners to make the area more bike friendly. As an extension of that, they are planning to build out bike parking at the food park.
Next winter, they hope to enter into phase two of the project, which is to transform the second building into a purposeful space that will add additional value to Minka Food Truck Park.
Food truck owners who are interested in exploring the potential of being a part of the Minka Food Truck Park are invited to contact Diaz Herrera by email at email@example.com.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.