Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market

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I’ve passed by this “acreage” just off I-75 at Howell Mill Road a number of times, and it so happened my wife and I were in the area and had the perfect opportunity to stop there... meaning she didn’t particularly care where we ate.

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I’ve had food from “food trucks” several times.  There’s one that drives to the front of my office building periodically (and if they were smart, they’d camp out at the local craft breweries when they’re open for tours). 

In any case, food trucks are the evolutionary step for food vendors who otherwise set up tents at outdoor festivals and similar.  “Evolutionary,” in this case, speaks to Intelligent Design, I think we can agree.  And why not?  You’ve got all your stuff in a mobile kitchen, with no lugging stuff around or fearing the elements.

But... to create a destination “event” where people drive to where mobile food trucks are parked is pretty funny.  It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?  It may as well be called an outdoor food court.

Well, I knew where the trucks were parked; I was less certain about public parking.  By guessing at the left turn just past the Park and hoping for the best, the street eventually wraps around into a parking area.   

After a short walk uphill, we arrived to find entertainment:

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And, other than that, it was pretty much food trucks:

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(And a couple of food trailers... kind of a let down, honestly.  Do they let just anyone park here?)

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My wife chose crepes.  Yep, crepes.  There’s a crepe truck, you see.  They weren’t that busy, but she liked it.

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In terms of marketing, you can try really fine print.  People have to approach close to the truck where the order taker can be all personable and everything.

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And, if that doesn’t work, you can advertise a little more boldly.

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In this case, the truck did both, and, yep, they got my money.  #1 Food Truck, eh?  Well, I ordered the WOW Factor – 20 hour smoked pork served over a bed of stone ground cheese grits topped with BBQ sauce & Chipotle Cream.  As it happens, it looks like this:

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A closer view showing the grits underneath.

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It was very good, actually.  I might debate that $10 ($2 for the Coke Zero) was a bit overpriced, but, hey, even Food Trucks have to pay the rent (cough cough).  On a nice day and with spousal latitude (or a work day option), I’d probably try it again, though.

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Anheuser-Busch Factory Tour–St. Louis

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It’s not that I’m ungrateful.  I’m getting fairly used to touring craft breweries, with small staffs who are, or appear to be, ardent supporters of their beer.  Anheuser-Busch isn’t that.  It’s massive, and had my iPhone retained the notes I typed in, I could list the production from this single brewery.  As a whole, the company has 47.6% of domestic beer sales to retailers (which excludes the growing market of direct to consumer sales), and internationally they’re a top 5 consumer products company.

The good news is that tours are offered every 15 minutes, they’re free, they include a free beer at the end, and they take only an hour or so. To accommodate the many who come, there is, of course, a dedicated staff to handle the tours.

That said, the presentation, at least by the two guides I went with, was so pat with the routine recitation that there was no life to it at all, though they were happy to engage when asked questions while walking.
You begin in what I’ll call the Welcome Center, which has the expected brand bric-a-brac and souvenir sales facility.  It’s nicely done.

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Almost immediately following is a tour of the stables for their famous Clydesdales.  Built in 1885, it’s on the National Historic Landmark register, but, oddly, doesn’t smell much like horses. 

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It’s a circular building, with several horses in residence – they’re rotated through here and other facilities but raised at a nearby farm.

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After that, the production tour begins.

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The tanks to the left are massive, and they’re several rows deep and stories high.  Each holds enough beer to fill 200,000 six packs.At the end is a small exhibit of the beechwood used in aging the beer. 

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You can see below that they’ve done a nice job in keeping the brick color similar to the historic buildings.  The buildings from the 1800’s are said to be “Romanesque.”

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A small tasting occurs early in the tour.  Bud or Bud Lite.

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Shortly afterwards, the servers are working hard, waiting for the next group in 15 minutes.

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So, back to where I began.  I don’t particularly care for their brand of beers – they’re bland to my taste.  I was just surprised that that the narrative was similarly ho-hum, when it could be heard at all. Instead, the buildings do much of the talking, and they have a lot to say.  Iron, tile... they just don’t build production facilities like these anymore.

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Below is the Bevo Packaging plant, constructed in 1917.

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The fox “gargoyles” overlooking the grounds, munching on chicken legs and holding mugs of Bevo, a nonalcohol beverage that the company made during Prohibition.

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Below is the fairly ornate lobby to the Bevo building.

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Otherwise, it looks like a production facility.

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The stop at the end of the walk (and the return bus ride from the bottling plant):

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Caught this one on walkabout as I was headed to my car.

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For a giant multi-national, it’s somewhat appropriate that neither of the namesakes began the brewery.  Rather, Anheuser purchased a troubled brewery, and Busch married into the family.

These and other photos can be seen HERE.

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Godzilla (2014)

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As an anonymous attendee commented, “Stupid!  But, Fun!”

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If you’re looking for a more comprehensive analysis, this isn’t the right movie for you.

4 of 5 STARS

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Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

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As a dinner plan with others didn’t work out, it was left to me to figure out where I wanted to eat.  A discussion with an “in-the-know” beer enthusiast at Schlafly suggested Urban Chestnut, if I had time, to check out their German beers and Schnitzel.  Two birds, one stone, in the form of dinner and another craft beer brewery.

So, I drove to their closer location, not a small place as it opens to either side of the building shown below, including a courtyard.

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But, they had a very limited menu.   No Schnitzel.  The employee had no reservations in sending my business to their other location, which was only a few miles away in “The Grove.”

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It’s a pretty colorful place, by appearances an eclectic revitalization of an old commercial district.  And, at one end, Urban Chestnut greets you.

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That’s a pretty big sign.  And it’s an omen for the facility’s overall size (75,000 sq.ft.).  The below picture doesn’t show the length of the place, though notably the central section is a pretty cool outdoor patio section.

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That patio might include the total seats available at many craft breweries, but not here, where many tables are set within.

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Just add more people:

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Oh, and there’s the bar:

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Yes, it was a slow night.

And, beside all that, I came for the food.

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With a side of “corn nuts.”    The sandwich was $10, and it was delicious.  Corn nuts?  Meh, maybe with more salt or sugar.

To be paired with this I chose the STLIPA, short for St. Louis India Pale Ale.  This was a fine drink, an Imperial, with 8% alcohol volume.  I remembered to take a photo before I finished it, even.  I have a few beers that I favor over this in the style, but this still at the upper end.

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Below is the Triskel, An American single hop IPA, with French hops.

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This was interesting, but not nearly as good as the STLIPA.  Revisiting a week later, I tried the Aramis, from the French hops for which it is named, not to mention the possible Alexandre Dumas influence.  An interesting and pleasant beer, but I prefer more bitterness.

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Below is the Hopfen, described as a Bavarian IPA, brewed with a variety of Hallertau ‘hopfen’ hops (German), instead of the more usual and more citric hop varieties of most American IPA’s.

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As a result, it had a unique (to my experience) and enjoyable hops flavor.

The brewery, which opened earlier this year, will be able to produce up to 100,000 barrels a year, plus approx. 40,000 at their other location.

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This brewery is intended to feature their “Revolution” series of beers, suited to their American beers.  The original location will produce their “Reverence” themed German/European beers, as well as test beers, though beers from both will be available at either.

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Tours aren’t offered as yet, but they do offer a self-guided tour, which I thought was pretty clever.  This wouldn’t work in most breweries, but it does here because of the scale.

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Urban Chestnut has a lot of beers to offer, but I only sampled the one.  Usually, it would be the beer that would bring me back.  Here, I’d come for the schnitzel, but plan more time to sample their beers.

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Overall, it’s a very worthy stop for craft beer seekers.

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