A new element of our Independence Eve Celebration this year is the addition of food trucks, which will replace our usual food tent.

Danny Itzkovitz, owner of Tamara’s Café and Tamara’s Tapas Bar, has been an integral part the food service team each year, donating time, money, and equipment to the operation of the food tent. “The event got so big so fast, we just couldn’t keep up,” he said, “And we only have 500 restaurant seats in this town. We just can’t feed everyone.

“The crowds are more than the restaurants can handle, and when we’re that busy, the experience for the customer isn’t the same,” Itzkovitz said. “We’re recruiting food trucks to help meet the demand.”

This year, his concept for a “food truck food court” is designed to alleviate stress on downtown restaurants and the volunteers, while adding unique cuisine. “Food trucks are a huge draw,” he said. “We’re looking for a large variety of different foods from local and regional vendors.”

Itzkovitz reflected on how the Independence Eve event has changed the downtown economy. “It used be everybody closed down around July 4. Several years ago it was a ghost town; everyone would go somewhere else because we didn’t have fireworks,” he said. “Now, the whole downtown is filled with patrons - every restaurant, every shop, every parking spot is full.”

Across the county, food trucks began booming in 2008 as the recession hit. Vendors began catering to the changing consumer preferences for affordable gourmet cuisine. Industry experts think the trend is here to stay.

Food trucks are our way of extending Southern hospitality to everyone who comes downtown for the event. Our goal is to provide fast, efficient food service at family-friendly prices, with delicious options to suit every taste.

If you are interested in being a food vendor, please feel free to contact us. The requirements include a license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to sell food in the state of Florida, and a $1 million product liability certificate of insurance.

Augusta West is executive director of Apalachicola Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to downtown economic development in the context of historic preservation. She can be reached at awest@apalachicolamainstreet.org or (850) 274-1321. Main Street’s mailing address is 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola, FL 32320