It’s a popular phrase for taking a different approach to a common idea, this time with a restaurant food court, often done with food trucks. A new one, The Fort at the Spanish Fort Town Center, is using repurposed cargo containers.
“It’s one of those things where someone’s thinking outside the box in terms of how to utilize these containers for other methods,” city Planning Director Chester Patterson said.
This thinking has put several new businesses inside these boxes to sell everything from pizza to snow cones. Everything is just about ready to go at The Fort and the grand opening is expected within a few weeks, possibly sooner. It will also be an entertainment district where patrons can walk around with drinks as they choose what to eat from a variety of vendors.
“The [certificate of occupation] has been issued, the board of health has done their inspection,” Mayor Mike McMillan said. “The ABC Board has not issued all the licenses because of some discrepancies on a few little items involved. That’s the only thing that’s the holdup on it.”
McMillan believes the new food venue in the 3.5-acre Town Center Park will provide a boost to the shopping center, which has struggled at times.
“It’s another aspect that will bring people to the center and that’s what’s been lacking,” McMillan said. “It’s going to be a good concept and I’m looking forward to it opening and new businesses coming in. It’s increased the awareness and made people take note that things are happening out there.”
These containers have been used for tiny houses and a variety of businesses including restaurants. In Orange Beach, the Hangout Hospitality Group put together a couple to open The Gulf restaurant overlooking Perdido Pass in 2012. A few years later the group added more and now have two restaurant concepts on the site with shaded outdoor seating, a gift shop and two bars. The company also has a Destin location.
Gulf Shores gave permission for a food truck court to be built alongside State Route 59 but the permit expired in December. Orange Beach OK’d a similar concept in June, on the beach road across from the Gulf of Mexico near Lartigue’s Seafood, but no work has started on it.
“It’s a situation that’s quite popular in other areas of the nation but becoming more and more popular in this area,” Patterson said.
Set to open are Beakers Coffee/Sno Biz, Bleus Burger, Deuce Coop, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Dragonfly Taco Bar, Happy Pizza, Soul Bowlz and the Tap Station.
“From my personal opinion, I think it’s a great thing,” Patterson said. “It’s an opportunity to have multiple establishments in one close setting. You can have pizzas, tacos, burgers all in one setting and have a common area. They are going to have, potentially, live music from time to time, so I think it’s a great thing.”
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