Grosse Pointe Farms officials dish on new summer dining options at Pier Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 27, 2021

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Visitors to Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms won’t have to pack their own meals and beverages this summer — at least not on the weekends.

With the recent retirement of longtime concession stand operator Richard “Dick” Graves, city officials had been hoping to find a new vendor to operate the stand and supply residents with food and beverages during the summer season. While finding a single vendor has thus far proven to be impossible, the city announced on its Facebook page May 21 that it would have different food trucks providing a variety of dining options — including ice cream, barbecue and burritos — from Fridays through Sundays between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. each day. Food truck service will start when the park opens for the summer over Memorial Day weekend.

“Although we were dealt with some lemons, I think we were able to make lemonade,” City Manager Shane Reeside said.

Food trucks on the schedule include Slows Bar B Q, Motor City Street Treats, Kona Ice, Meltdown Creamery and Chutney Cat, among many others.

“It’s going to be different than it has been in the past … but I think it may be a draw to the park,” Reeside said of food trucks, some of which have dedicated followings.

Following Graves’ retirement announcement, administrators sought bids from vendors to run the stand. During a May 11 Farms City Council meeting by Zoom, Reeside said that the only vendor who responded was National Coney Island.

“We really went through a vigorous (request for proposal) process,” Reeside said, adding that that the city gave vendors more time to respond and the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce even reached out to encourage potential applicants.

Reeside said the city was “pleased with” the proposal from National Coney Island, but learned May 10 that, due to staffing shortages throughout the local chain, they wouldn’t be able to run the Farms stand.

“Coney Island really made an effort to come up with the management and employees they needed to run the stand, but they didn’t want to fail,” Reeside said. “They wanted to provide the best service possible.”

Reeside said the city is still in talks with National Coney Island about possibly bringing its food truck to Pier Park on select weekdays.

Food truck service will be weather-dependent — Reeside said they likely won’t be open on a stormy day — and the schedule of vendors could change as the season progresses, so residents should check the city’s website or Facebook page for the latest updates.

City Councilwoman Beth Konrad-Wilberding voiced support for the food truck concept during the May 11 meeting, instead of inviting different community groups to run the concession stand.

“Personally, I think food trucks are the way to go,” Konrad-Wilberding said. “It needs to be a commercial operation.”

Mayor Louis Theros noted that the city had brought food trucks into the park in the past for events.

The Farms Parks and Recreation Committee “gave their support” of having food trucks at the park during a meeting May 19, Reeside said.

During the May 11 council meeting, City Attorney William Burgess said that, “as long as the potential vendor is licensed and has the proper insurance,” city administrators could give temporary service approval to them and bring the matter back before the council at its next meeting.

“I think it’s going to be kind of a fun alternative,” Reeside said. “We hope it’s well received.”

As to the concession stand building itself, Reeside said the city is in talks with someone who might be able to at least offer limited service — such as refreshments, chips and candy.

“We’d like to see the concession stand open, particularly during the week when the food trucks are not there,” Reeside said.

For the food truck schedule, visit foodtruck.tours/subdivisions/grosse-pointe-farms-pier-park.