Market Square will become an open-air dining room beginning April of next year when eight food carts will open up shop at the normally hushed city center.
The Department of Planning and Zoning on Tuesday presented the city council with a plan to vitalize the space in front of City Hall with the aroma and bustle of local restaurants in the form of a vending cart.
Its part of a pilot program, and if it works, it will become a mainstay for tourists, residents and weekday workers.
We want to find out how successful it will be, said Barbara Ross, deputy director of planning and zoning. Every study we have says that when you walk by Market Square there is nothing happening, and therefore you stop. What you need to keep people shopping is to have something that stretches all the way [through King Street].
The plan began in February, but initial interest from restaurateurs lacked, putting it on hold. At least eight restaurants have expressed interest, Ross said, though she would not name them.
The pilot program is open only to Old Town restaurants initially. Because it is on city property, City Hall wants to hold the reigns. The process will be highly controlled no overlapping of food offerings is allowed and restaurants will have to choose from city-approved carts, according to the plan.
The program will cost taxpayers about $18,000, according to the presentation. If it proves successful, it will be cost-neutral for the city in the future, Ross said.
I dont think we should be scared as a city to try things, Councilman Rob Krupicka said.
Restaurants will apply to the city for a spot at the table. The city will choose the lucky eight through a completive process based on their business model, Ross said.
The vending carts will open at 11 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. daily, except Saturday when they will open at 1 p.m. after the farmers market closes.