Stuck in political purgatory for more than two years as City Hall has weighed potential regulations, Pensacola’s food truck operators have chosen to look beyond the city limits.
While the city government hasn’t exactly made food trucks a priority, areas like Warrington have welcomed them with open arms. Warrington’s Pensacola Cooks Kitchen has hosted several food truck rallies, and the longtime Warrington staple Hip Pocket Deli reopened as a food truck in April after the brick-and-mortar version closed earlier this year.
This weekend, many of the area’s food trucks set up shop at the inaugural Warrington Market Place. Located at Pensacola State College’s Warrington campus, Saturday’s event was a product of the Bring Back Warrington effort and the first of what organizers hope will be a regular community market.
More than 20 vendors and 7 food trucks participated in Saturday’s market, said organizer Randy Ponson. He estimated between 500 and 800 people attended over the course of the six-hour event. “We were thrilled with the turnout, and even more thrilled with the vibe,” said Ponson.
Located on Pensacola’s west side, Warrington is one of the city’s original suburbs, with a history stretching back to the 1840s, when it was founded south of Bayou Grande near the Pensacola Navy Yard. As the military installation grew into Naval Air Station Pensacola, the neighborhood eventually moved to the other side of the bayou and continued to grow alongside the base. Over the past few decades, however, Warrington, along with several other near-city neighborhoods, has declined.
Bring Back Warrington was formed earlier this year by Ponson and his wife in hopes of helping to revitalize the westside neighborhood. Ponson credited Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill for his support of the effort. “Doug Underhill and his staff have just been awesome. They really encouraged it and it just kind of took off,” said Ponson.
Saturday’s inaugural market featured food trucks such as Nomadic Eats, the Hip Pocket Deli, Busy Bee, Warriors Wagon, and more. Local vendors like Neon Coffee, Fresh Fruit Infusions, and Truffles in Paradise rounded out the market’s offerings, while several bands provided live entertainment. Proceeds from Saturday’s market benefited the Skills USA organization at Pensacola State College’s Warrington Campus, and Ponson said Bring Back Warrington would like to similarly partner with student organizations for future events.
Ponson said Saturday’s event is only the beginning. Bring Back Warrington hopes to make the market a monthly event, and the group is also working on other projects.
“Bring Back Warrington started as a conversation,” Ponson said. “We decided someone needed to shine a spotlight on this part of town.”