Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Civic Center Eats will expand next summer: Keep on (gourmet food) truckin'

The town's biggest business trend last year -- the fleet of gourmet food trucks rolling into Denver -- also gave rise to some of the biggest rumors: The city was trying to keep trucks out of downtown and cut off our cupcake supply, some whispered, and even worse, the city was going to put the brakes on Civic Center Eats. But that's wrong.

As Denver City Council reps discovered last week as they looked over the draft Food Truck Guide, a new document pulling together all the old rules, food trucks have been banned from much of downtown Denver since 1994. That's just one of the regulations that Representative Carla Madison will be looking at when she leads a task force to assess the rules and propose changes. She's hoping to make that proposal by spring, when the truck season really revs up.

But even if her work isn't done, Civic Center Eats -- the summer celebration that brought trucks, vendors, entertainment and, most important, people into Civic Center Park every Tuesday -- will be back in 2011, and bigger than ever.

"We're looking to expand Civic Center Eats to two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays," says Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, head of the Civic Center Conservancy, which puts on the event. And while the big gathering of vendors will be on those days, Civic Center will also boast up to four vendors on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays -- and the Civic Center Conservancy has a contract with the city in hand to make it possible.

"It will be the hub of food-truck activity," Lent promises, "and a destination for lunch all summer."

In today's frigid temperature, it's almost impossible to imagine wandering around outside at lunchtime. But regulars have warm memories of last year's Civic Center Eats, which truly turned Civic Center into the town square.

Civic Center Eats will run June 7 through September 29, with a short break for Taste of Colorado. "Vendor applications will be going out soon," Lent says.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. And stop the rumors.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Gourmet food trucks collide with confusing Denver regulations."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun