Library Mall carts will head to East Campus Mall and Lake Street this season.
Big changes are coming this spring for Madison's food carts, stemming from the construction that will start in April on the 700 and 800 blocks of State Street, better known as Library Mall. It's the prime midday vending area (along with the Capitol Square) for carts with Mall-Concourse licenses, and none of the regular spots will be available for the majority of the year.
Madison street vending coordinator Warren Hansen has been working since last fall to find alternate vending areas for the 20-some carts usually on the mall. The good news is things are falling into place to make that happen.
Hansen has been collaborating with UW-Madison to place about six carts on the East Campus Mall between State and University (near the Chazen Art Museum), which will keep the vendors close to their normal locations.
Pending final agreements with city Parking and Traffic Engineering, Hansen hopes to place about seven more carts on Lake Street between State and Langdon, along the side of the Memorial Library -- also close to Library Mall. These new spots would begin with the new vending season, April 15, unless construction starts before that.
Some carts may find themselves further afield, however. One possible plan would place a couple more carts on or near Wisconsin Avenue and the Square.
Another plan that Hansen has been working on is for several carts to try vending at the Epic campus outside of Verona. Some carts have been gathering for Wednesday lunches at the University Research Park on the west side, but the Epic plan is for vending Monday through Friday. "Epic has been interested in trying this for a few years now," says Hansen, and the disruption on the mall has created a good opportunity. "I love the environment," he adds of the Epic campus.
So far, seven carts have been asked if they want to try vending there. Two have said yes, two no, and three have not yet replied.
Despite the presence of Epic's much-lauded onsite cafeteria, directed by chef Eric Rupert, Hansen suspects the outdoor food option will be popular. And with upwards of 5,000 employees there on a daily basis, Epic should provide a good customer base.
"I'm hoping it will be a successful experience for the carts," Hansen says.
University Research Park would also like to expand its cart program to more than one day a week, Hansen says, and there are preliminary plans to bring carts to the far east side in the Pflaum Road and Agriculture Drive area. This large industrial/business park near the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection building is something of a "food desert," Hansen reports.
Rumors that kettle corn carts will no longer be vending at the Saturday Farmers' Market, Concerts on the Square or Library Mall are untrue, says Hansen. No one will be on Library Mall per se, so that siting is still up in the air, but there will be spots for the kettle corn vendors at the Saturday market and Concerts on the Square.