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Urban Food Park Drives More Mobile Eats Downtown

Ryan Benk
Butt Hutt Smokehouse food truck

Hungry downtown workers have a new place to grab a bite after Thursday’s opening of Jacksonville’s first “Urban Food Park.”

Every weekday, a rotation of four trucks will set up at lunch time for The Court: An Urban Food Park.

The Butt Hutt Smokehouse is one of four trucks serving lunch adjacent to the Suntrust Building.

“We do a traditional technique. We smoke our meats using local pecan wood. We use all of our own spices and rubs, everything gets sauced on the side and it’s just an experience, man. It’s like no other barbeque you’ve ever had,” said Jacob Bander, the truck’s owner.

Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News
Jacob Bander, co-owner of Butt Hutt Smokehouse

The food park is, in part, the creation of urban planner Jack Shad.

“It’s an example of what they call tactical urbanism. It’s using the assets that are already there in a creative way. We hope it brings people out of their office, that it brings people together (and) that it provides another amenity for downtown,” he said.

Shad said City Council paved the way for the founding of the park after reforming permitting regulations in 2014. That’s after Councilman Reggie Brown hammered out the contentious legislation with traditional restaurants wary of competition for downtown’s limited foot traffic.

Shad said depending on the success of the lunch rush, he plans to open the park on nights and weekends.

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Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.