After mortgage banker Kevin Payne and his wife were blown from Hilton Head back to Memphis by Hurricane Matthew, Payne found himself at a crossroads.
He could either continue banking, or he could fulfill his desire to become an entrepreneur.
The perfect mix of family connections, previous experience, and passion colored his decision. He determined to open a food truck park in Memphis.
"I was real active in the food truck scene in Hilton Head as an advocate," Payne says.
His family has owned Golf and Games Family Park on Summer and Bartlett for more than 50 years, and Payne saw the perfect opportunity for a food truck park at the putt-putt property's southeast corner.
"I interviewed some of the food truck owners, and they said they had been looking for a place like that, that there was a need," Payne said.
Payne celebrated the grand opening of 901 Food Truck Park last weekend with, well, food trucks, along with live music and karaoke.
The former parking lot now has electrical posts for six trucks — making the food truck park a silent park, as in no generators — picnic tables, and a stage for bands. He hopes to book bands regularly and host events, such as battle of the bands and other family-friendly activities.
"Memphis has such a mix of good music, so we can have food, music, and fun on 40 acres," Payne says.
Payne envisions artists selling their work on the lot as well as farmers selling their produce.
"They say I'm about three weeks early, that April 10th is the magic day," Payne says. "I hope to build up to four trucks during lunch and four during dinner, with special events and vendors on the weekends."
901 Food Truck Park, 5484 Summer, facebook.com/901foodtruckpark, (901) 568-0746
Payne's efforts follow right behind those of Daniel Praytor, who opened the Memphis Food Truck Park at 3803 Winchester just over a month ago.
Praytor and his employer, Aren Investments, purchased the former gas station six or seven months ago in an effort to do something productive with the property that would benefit the neighboring airport-area businesses.
"We knew there were not a lot of food options in this area, not a lot of variety, and we wanted to make something nice for the community and give the consumers some options," Praytor says.
Praytor and his partners researched other food truck parks in Texas and Florida and decided to expand on what they saw.
The result is electrical outlets for 13 trucks — also a silent park — gray water and fresh water hookups, a 1,000-gallon grease trap, and an ice machine.
Consumers can expect covered seating, free Wi-Fi and charging stations for laptops and cell phones, and men's and women's restrooms with outdoor wash stations.
"We have 12 security cameras throughout the property," Praytor says.
"We've gotten a lot of good responses," Praytor says. "Trucks love parking here, and we get a lot of foot traffic from the warehouses around here. People can come with a car load, and everyone has something they like to eat."
Hours vary, as the trucks and market tend to drive that component, but the park's Facebook page lists participating trucks on a regular basis.
"Right now lunch is busier than any other time, and we're trying to build the weekend crowd," Praytor says. "We have around nine trucks on a consistent basis.
"This is a community affair. We want to provide the neighborhood with a service they can enjoy."
Memphis Food Truck Park, 3803 Winchester, memphisfoodtruckpark.com, (901) 440-0558.