GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A permanent food truck court is coming to Bridge Street in Grand Rapids.

The city Planning Commission officially approved the plan on Thursday afternoon.

The bar and restaurant with a partially enclosed food truck court will be at 648 Bridge St. and 345 Lexington Ave. David Meikle, who owns food courts in Petoskey and Charlevoix, said they will reconstruct the building currently there.

It was Duthler’s Family Foods until it closed in 2017. Before that, it was a Ford dealership. The original building was constructed in 1917 as an auto service station.

A rendering of a proposed food truck court on Bridge Street NW in Grand Rapids. (Feb. 23, 2023)
A rendering of a proposed food truck court on Bridge Street NW in Grand Rapids. (Feb. 23, 2023)

Developers plan on removing the roof and reconstructing the perimeter walls to create an enclosed courtyard. The wall and design would also be reminiscent of the original building. Renovations would be made to the indoor space.

There will be no more than four food trucks at a time. They will operate out of the court for six months at a time and then rotate. There would be 58 total spaces for parking on the Bridge Street property and the Lexington parcel.

“It’s just a rare opportunity,” said Ben Franceschi, the architect and principal of Mathison Architects, the group designing the space. “We were extremely excited when we saw the original Ford dealership photos. We believe this is harkening back to the original architectural quality you see in those photos. So there’s kind of the restoration aspect.”

Lauren D’Angelo, the vice president of the Grand Rapids food truck association, spoke out against the project. D’Angelo was concerned that the court won’t operate in the winter and about how the rotation schedule would work.

“All the food trucks here operate on a day-to-day basis,” D’Angelo said. “We’re on wheels so we can move. To be locked into a six-month contract is detrimental to how food trucks operate in this area.”

“There’s currently 15 to 18 trucks operating in the winter that would love an opportunity to park during winter months,” she added.

Though trucks will likely not operate during the coldest months of the year, the outdoor area would remain open for dining. Meikle has proposed adding fire pits and even planting trees to make the area warm and inviting during the winter.

The owner of Maggie’s Kitchen also voiced concern about the project during public comment, worrying about the lack of parking in the area.

Planning Commission members called it a great project, referring to it as a “nice asset” to the neighborhood and the city as a whole. No members objected to the project and it passed swiftly.

Meikle, who declined an interview request, didn’t have a timeline for when construction will begin and when the restaurant will open, though he did say it’s going to be “a bit.”