The food truck craze shows no signs of slowing down, in fact in Modesto it is about to rev up even more — and become more concentrated.
The city’s first dedicated food truck court will open downtown in a once-vacant lot at the corner of Ninth and G streets. Modesto Grub Hubs will have space and hookups for 17 food trucks and hopes to open by the start of the new year.
The brainchild of Gregory Reed, whose family members have been owners of several large downtown Modesto properties, the lot sat vacant for years. It had been a longtime hub for Vito Trucking and then was a trucking school for a while. Reed, who is president of Reed Properties and G&K Enterprises, has owned the 4.5 acre-lot for the past 13 years.
About a year and a half ago he came up with the idea to turn the empty space, which is enclosed on all sides by fencing, into a food truck court like he had seen in other largely metropolitan cities. At the same time he was discussing partnering with a chef friend for a Texas-style barbecue restaurant. And now, after a lot of planning and permits, they’re closing in on making both a reality in the same space.
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“We’ve had this space for a long time and were wondering what to do with it,” Reed said. “It’s taken a while to come up with a plan. I really want this to be a family destination. It’s a place where if you want to have lunch or dinner together, but you don’t want to have what I want, you can come here.”
Reed has been to food truck courts in other cities like San Francisco, Elk Grove and Lodi for research. He is also a fan of some of the taco trucks that have long lines on downtown’s Eighth Street and other areas of town.
He had initially wanted the food court to open around the same time as the new county courthouse, whose space sits kitty-corner from the lot. But with that project still waiting for funding to come through, Reed decided to move forward. He has installed electrical and water hookups. The lot will soon be paved over and the wrought-iron fencing will be fixed and extended around the court. Once finished, there will be entrances off of G and Ninth streets and the lot should be open 24-hours a day.
Two shipping containers sit at the back of the food court, one will become the site’s dedicated restrooms and another will be Reed and his restaurant business partner Brian Kiser’s upcoming eatery, Fire and Desire Texas BBQ. A row of seating will go down the center of the two main rows of trucks, with additional seating on the edges. The court will be shade and rain awnings and lights throughout the property. The site will also have plenty of parking, custodial service weekend security.
In the future he would possibly like to add a stage on the G Street side of the property for live music, as well as family games like bocce and corn hole.
Reed hasn’t advertised to or reached out to food truck owners yet. But already about seven vendors have placed tentative reservations ranging from coffee trucks to Greek food, Mexican sweets, sandwich and seafood purveyors. The sign for Modesto Grub Hubs also went up recently, with its promise of “Food Feast Fun Festive.”
“There’s a lot more interest right from the start than I realized. People are excited to have more choices, and not just taco trucks, in one area like this,” Reed said.
In the next week or so he plans to start sending interested food truck vendors official contracts. Space will rent for $350 a week or $1,000 a month. Space is available, so if you want a slot contact Reed soon. My guess is they’ll be snapped up quickly.
While the name may cause a small amount of confusion, given the similar-sounding Grubbub is a national app-based food delivery service, Reed said he thinks it is differentiated enough to stand out and be memorable.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
If you’re looking for the Modesto Once Upon A Child, it has moved to a new spot in the same shopping center.
The Modesto store started on McHenry Avenue 24 years ago and relocated to Plaza Parkway seven years ago. Now it is in a new suite in the same complex. You can find the shop — which sells gently used children’s clothing, toys, gear and furniture — at 2225 Plaza Parkway Suite J1. For more information call 209-575-3554 or visit www.onceuponachildmodesto.com.