Food truck park 9 Mile Garden will host grand opening July 3 to 5
Plenty of green space, live music and scores of local eats will soon help usher in summer in St. Louis as 9 Mile Garden, Missouri’s first food truck garden, will officially open Friday, July 3, at 9375 Gravois Road in Affton. Grand opening celebrations continue Saturday and Sunday, with regular hours (closed Sundays) beginning the following week.
Spread out over 86,000 square feet, 9 Mile Garden is a great place for those looking to keep their social distance.
“When we open, we will only have about 10 picnic tables, and we want to encourage people to bring their own lawn chairs and picnic blankets,” said managing partner Brian Hardesty.
The picnic tables will be spaced 12 feet apart and are designed so the person sitting across from you is at a 6-foot distance. Hand sanitizing stations and social distancing signage will be mounted throughout the garden. Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks.
“We’re going to have staff that is trained on CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and St. Louis County standards,” Hardesty said. “What the professionals and scientists are saying people should do is what we will do.”
The garden will feel bright, open and breezy. Two private streets flank the nearly 2-acre property, allowing visitors to stroll around the venue brimming with flora.
The Canteen, the bar at 9 Mile Garden, is 4,500 square feet, but it will feel even larger thanks to large windows and garage doors that will open the bar to the rest of the venue. Its color scheme and architecture are reminiscent of Grand Central Terminal in New York.
9 Mile Garden’s grand opening weekend will feature a rotation of 30 local food truck vendors, as well as what Hardesty calls “alternative trucks” that will sell flowers, comic books, clothes, pet treats and more. Board games and outdoor games like cornhole and pickleball will be available, and there will be live music playing each afternoon that weekend.
Tents will feature community organizations like local breweries, pet adoption centers and local charities. On Saturday night, a 26-foot jumbo screen will play a Fourth of July-themed movie to be determined in lieu of fireworks. (Check the website for updates to the list of vendors.)
After the initial grand opening weekend, 9 Mile Garden will be open for lunch beginning at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, ending at 10:30 p.m. The Canteen will stay open until 1:30 a.m. The trucks will park it in rotation, with five trucks serving lunch and seven open for dinner. Friday nights will feature free live music while Saturdays will include free movie nights.
Hardesty expects other large events will eventually take place in 9 Mile Garden’s versatile space, from holiday celebrations to adult proms and private events, when catering will be offered in partnership with the trucks.
“In the coming months, I envision a constant rotation of cool things to do, and I will do my best to keep most of those free or low cost,” says Hardesty. “We want this place to be somewhere everyone can come and not worry about their wallet and to be somewhere to bring family and friends and pets and have a good time.”
During his research on Affton, Hardesty learned about the longstanding history of truck gardens.
“Before Affton was developed into a residential community, it often hosted farmer’s markets, but back then they were called ‘truck gardens’ because farmers would pull up their trucks to the venue and sell their merchandise out of the back of their trucks.”
9 Mile Garden’s name also hearkens history.
“Before there were street signs, people would designate landmarks by their relationship to the center of town, the courthouse,” he explained. “It just so happens we are close to nine miles away from the courthouse, hence 9 Mile Garden.”
The St. Louis community is at the forefront of 9 Mile Garden. The Canteen will serve local brews, the food trucks are local, and local vendors and organizations will be able to sell their services.
“In the coming months, I also plan on engaging a lot of community organizations with the help of a few local artists to create a large mosaic mural that will cover the entire 200 feet of street within the garden,” he said.
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