Lakeland Food Truck Rally celebrates 1st birthday - WFLA News Channel 8

Lakeland Food Truck Rally celebrates 1st birthday

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Lakeland's downtown Food Truck Rally celebrates its first birthday tonight. The event consistently draws crowds of more than 3,000 people but hasn't always been embraced by local businesses.

When the idea for the Food Truck Rally first circulated some bricks and mortar business owners raised a red flag.

Chris McArthur, owner of Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro, was among the restaurateurs who feared food trucks would be a threat to his business.

"My initial reaction was I didn't want to open a Pandora's box," McArthur said. " I was worried that that would invite food trucks in on a permanent basis, and I don't feel that we have the density in downtown to support that."

Over at Palace Pizza owner Giovanni Moriello and his family were also initially concerned about the rally.

"It was kind of scary. I was kind of worried, and you know I didn't think it was smart," Moreillo said.

But a strange and surprisingly sweet thing happened for some of the permanent businesses in downtown Lakeland. The Food Truck Rally actually increased their business.

"Just right off the bat we had increased business on those Thursday nights," MacArthur said.

Palace Pizza estimates their business is up 20%-30% on the second Thursday of each month when the Food Truck Rally is in town.

" Cause a lot of people will go there. They'll see the lines. The lines are too long, and they don't want to wait, and they end up coming here or they go up the street, but it brings a lot of foot traffic down here," Moriello said.

Lakeland's anniversary Food Truck Rally takes place tonight from 6-9pm in downtown's Munn Park. It features about 25 trucks from all over Central Florida that are all part of the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally group.

Related Content: Mobile Food truck feast expands in Tampa

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