If all goes as planned, a Land Yacht BBQ food truck will herald what Chris Haydocy envisions will be a gourmet food park on West Broad Street near Hollywood Casino Columbus.
Haydocy, who owns the land where the Hollywood & Broad Gourmet Food Park will be located, is president of Weston Vision, a West Side economic development organization. He also owns Haydocy Automotive on West Broad Street and a new Airstream dealership near the casino.
Over time, the food park is expected to host several vintage Airstream RVs outfitted as gourmet food trucks that employ 20 people. Land Yacht BBQ will open at the park "as soon as the weather breaks" in the spring, he said.
Franklin County officials are pleased with the concept.
"Columbus is a rapidly growing food-truck oasis," Franklin County Commissioner John O'Grady said, citing the increase from a handful of trucks a few years ago to a few hundred.
"It's a great thing for that particular part of town," he added. "The West Side is re-emerging and redeveloping."
James Schimmer, director of the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department, called the project "innovative and truly the type of creative spark the area needs."
Haydocy said he's been working for several years "to create a neighborhood gathering spot with a community atmosphere offering a variety of great food and reasonable pricing."
He envisions a patio dotted with picnic tables, an indoor dining hall ringed by aluminum-clad Airstreams from past decades, and a Las Vegas-style marquee. He patterned his park after others, including SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco.
He said he got the idea from studying a 2011 economic development strategy report that identified redevelopment opportunities around the emerging Hollywood Casino Columbus.
"We thought that a restaurant would be successful at the site if it were unique to central Ohio," so it could draw from outside the area, said Chris Boring, principal at Boulevard Strategies, a Columbus retail consulting company.
The food should be upscale, but not too expensive, Boring said. And the restaurant should open for lunch to serve the 22,000 workers who are within five minutes of the site, he said.
A report written by Robert Charles Lesser & Co. of Washington, D.C., said a restaurant cluster north of the casino would provide "a strong opportunity for short-term revitalization along Broad Street.
"Market analysis suggests that there is unmet demand for at least four new restaurants in the study area," the report said.
This demand was expected to grow after the casino opened, but for two years, no one stepped forward to build a restaurant on the identified site. So Haydocy, who owned two Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in North Carolina in the early 1990s, outfitted a 1963 Airstream travel trailer as a gourmet kitchen to launch the park and hired chef Brian Young as general manager of the food-truck business.
"We want to appeal to all the senses," Haydocy said. "First and foremost, taste," with apple or hickory-wood-smoked pulled pork, Texas-style brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, and even smoked macaroni and cheese.