With COVID-19 easing and the prospect of workers returning to offices, we may see more food carts downtown. There is no deadline to apply for a Mall-Concourse vending license this year, says street vending coordinator Meghan Blake-Horst, although the season officially begins on April 15. Selling fees are back, after being scrapped in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
Blake-Horst says she’s starting to get requests for carts to be placed in the square, which is a sign that “things are coming back.” She fears staff shortages will prevent the carts that also run a brick-and-mortar restaurant from closing.
Blake-Horst hears concerns from some vendors about rising food and fuel prices. Two carts previously released on Library Mall, Hibachi Hut and Bulgogi Korean Tacos, have increased their prices. Either way, entrees now cost $11 to $12, down from around $8 to $9 before the pandemic.
Ryan Guest, a sophomore at UW-Madison who waits in line at Hibachi Hut, says he noticed the cart increased in price last fall and then again after winter break. Rising prices haven’t deterred him from eating at the food carts, which he does about once a week.
Homecoming, Spring Green’s farm-to-table restaurant, hosts themed dinners for a month. In March, the theme is “Family Traditions,” featuring owner Kyle Beach and Chef Chance Spivey’s southern cuisine on Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings from 4-8 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. h. , Pork or Portobello Mushroom, Marinated Shrimp, Appalachian Fried Bread with Chilli Cheese Spread, Fried Country Steak, Mac and Cheese, Buttermilk Cucumber Salad, Collard Greens and Pie.
Penknife, a fast-paced, laid-back concept from Red founders Jack Yip and Tanya Zhykharevich, is set to open March 14. It will serve homemade dumplings, sushi rolls and bowls, including poke and salads, at 1050 East Washington Ave. in the new Arden building.