The Covid 19 Effect on Food in Colorado Springs

With the virus changing our patterns as a civilization, we have to rethink how we dine. Dining in public places was already experiencing dynamic changes in the past few years. People were already dining out less and opting toward the restaurants that were neither dine-in or fast food – places more similar to Chipotle where counter or online ordering then sitting at somewhat clean tables.

Covid-19 has taken this to a whole other level where delivery and take-out are king. But there is something about it that still misses the pleasing aspect of dining out. I believe that warmer weather is going to open up the possibilities as we continue safe distancing protocols in 2020. Yes, if you were thinking that I was going to say food trucks, you’re right!

Photo courtesy of Jana Bussanich Fine Art

Food trucks entered the Colorado Springs scene in a major way in 2013. As a part of the Colorado Springs Urban Intervention at the time, we really wanted to bring this placemaking element to Colorado Springs that was prevalent elsewhere. We were fortunate to have the support of the City of Colorado Springs, the Downtown Partnership and other individuals who also believed in what would be Curbside Cuisine. Our CSUI group championed this food renaissance for the remainder of 2013 before a separate board was created to see it through. It eventually ran into issue with the infrastructure and had to close, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t come back. In fact, the Downtown Partnership continued to champion this renaissance in the past couple years at the Pioneer’s Museum. I am unaware if it is coming back in some manner or not this year, but I think it is important to enable food trucks to think beyond entities setting up infrastructure and make awesomeness happen all over town on other coordinated days of the week.

People would love to have access to good food, so it would be best for the trucks to go to the people. I have assembled a map of Colorado Springs identifying some of the locations where I believe that it can be successful without additional permissions or infrastructure.

In Colorado Springs, the public streets allow for Food Trucks as long as the truck is meeting the legal obligations of the City (parking legally). In general, this means that they must be parked where parking is allowed and not impede traffic. They are also not allowed to park in metered parking spaces.

In the assembly of this map, which is certainly far from an exhaustive list, our Civic Design Partnership team looked to areas of higher density residential (townhomes, apartments, or greater density single-family homes) and the presence of public space where a picnic could occur for enjoying food. The following were some of our suggested locations:

Downtown: Pueblo Avenue at the intersection of Nevada and Pueblo (southeast of the Pioneer’s Museum where the Concrete Couch Pumpkin sits) includes angled, non-metered parking where a truck could park across the center line and take up two spaces if necessary. There are also some striped-off areas outside of the crosswalk that could also park a truck or some tables and chairs. Beyond this, Cimino Drive adjacent to America the Beautiful Park is also an opportune location as soon as the Pedestrian Bridge is complete connecting downtown to the park.

West (Old Colorado City): To the north of Bancroft Park, there is a block’s worth of parallel, non-metered parking that could have a truck or two. This would also help activate Bancroft Park, which has been something that the Old Colorado City Neighborhood has been desiring for quite a few years.

Southwest: Lower Gold Camp Road adjacent to Gold Camp Park is another opportune location for food trucks. This area taps into the residents that live nearby to Bear Creek Park, Lower Skyway and Gold Hill Mesa. Gold Hill Mesa has been home to several food trucks during events in the past where the food truck operators enjoy a great amount of business. With a little help from the Gold Hill Mesa social media group, this could be a gold mine for food trucks.

Northwest: The Pinon Valley Park includes several on-street parking spaces on the northwest side of Colorado Springs where food trucks could flourish. There are a good number of town houses, residents and of course the benefit of it’s proximity to Ute Valley Park makes this a great location for food trucks.

Southeast: Southeast Colorado Springs may have been the first to bring food trucks into the equation, but they have predominantly been located along large arterials in parking lots. There is a food truck movement of sorts occurring in a mostly-abandoned shopping center along Circle Drive (Spring Creek Shopping Center), just east of the Spring Creek Neighborhood. These options will continue to be successful, but there are other opportunities nearby some of the parks and high density areas of the southeast including Van Diest Park, Roy Benavidez Park and Deerfield Hills Park.

Central: The east side of Hancock Avenue along Boulder Park presents a great opportunity to bring food closer to the neighborhood (and the hospital) near Memorial Hospital in Central Colorado Springs. There is a good amount of density in this area and Hancock permits parking along the street (though not greatly used) This is one of those streets that could also use some traffic calming in which this would aid to assist. A similar opportunity exists along Templeton Gap Road adjacent to Nancy Lewis Park.

Northeast: Flying Horse Road in northeast Colorado Springs is a residential street adjacent to Springs Ranch Park northwest of the intersection of Peterson and Pony Tracks Drive that would serve a large population of Northeast Colorado Springs. We got to know this park and area fairly well when working on the Pony Park pocket neighborhood to the south. It is an under-served area for restaurants and would be a great opportunity to provide food for the nearby residents without the need for the automobile.

Please respond below in the comments with any other suggestions. Let’s not let the virus sour our summers, let’s figure out how to gain greater access to local food and leverage our resources instead!

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