It might be chilly right now, but spring and summer are right around the corner. That means patio season, festivals and food trucks.
Zocalo Food Park is the name of the new project, which will occupy a 7,000-square foot lot at 636 S. 6th St. The park will be a partnership between Jesus Gonzalez, owner of the Mazorca taco truck, and Sean Phelan, president of Phelan Development.
Gonzalez says the name is derived from the Mexican term, zocalo, which means square or plaza. It’s also a term that’s become symbolic of cultures coming together; take for instance El Zócalo in Mexico City which represents not only a city center, but the convergence of both ancient Aztec culture and Spanish colonialism.
"The goal is really to create our own gathering place in the neighborhood," notes Gonzalez, adding that the park will include accommodations for six distinct food trucks, parking and a bar with outdoor seating.
"Our plans are still very much in development," he says, noting that more details will be available as work progresses. "But our vision is to cultivate partnerships with food entrepreneurs and create an ecosystem that embraces food enthusiasts."
The liquor license application filed with the City of Milwaukee also indicates that the park could also potentially function as a location for live music, entertainment or other outdoor events.
What’s cool about a food truck park?
While Milwaukee has hosted a variety of food truck gatherings – including regular events at spots like the County Courthouse and Red Arrow Park – the Zocalo Food Park is likely to be quite distinct, and a first for the area.
In fact, if current models hold true, Zocalo will be one of a growing number of food truck parks throughout the nation. Examples in the Midwest include the Detroit Fleat in Ferndale, Michigan; and The Little Fleet in Traverse City, Michigan, which showcases a full-service bar and The Yurt, a covered venue used for hosting live music, dinners and other events.
Much like food halls, food truck parks offer a diversity of food and beverage options, making them a perfect place for family outings and social gatherings. Like other locally owned businesses, they also contribute to the growth of the local economy, tourism and overall neighborhood vitality.
The Zocalo Food Park is contingent on Gonzalez’s and Phelan’s purchase of the property, which is currently owned by Mike Eitel of Caravan Hospitality Group. It’s one portion of multiple properties purchased by Eitel and located one block west of Eitel’s Nomad Nacional, the pop-up bar located at 625 S. 5th St., which entertained guests during the World Cup
Zocalo Food Park is expected to open sometime this spring. Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they are released.
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.