Wednesday, July 14, 2010

[grill] it and they will come

last weekend, i ate my first hot dog from a street vendor in wichita. believe me, this was not on my bucket list, but it did make me feel better about the future of wichita's downtown development.

i had a friend in town, visiting from kansas city, so much of the weekend was spent showing off wichita highlights. saturday evening found us in old town. at the end of the night, with the bars closing down, and our tabs paid, we wondered out onto the sidewalk, and were suddenly greeted with the most heavenly sent. grilled hot dogs! at that point in time nothing could have smelled better or more perfect. we had to have them. handing over four bucks for two dogs we quickly devoured them. walking home, i was thrilled at this little culinary surprise the city had offered up.

this same friend and i had just spent time in new york, a city filled with street vendors. a city which epitomizes urban living. street vendors are a small sign of a vibrant city, and wichita is beginning to have more options. as ironic as it may sound, having a smorgasbord of saturated fat on the sidewalk, is actually a healthy sign for downtown. remembering back to my "design and society" class in college, street vendors are very keen when it comes to lively spaces. with their business on wheels, they can quickly move to where the action is. they can easily fill a void not being met by regular establishments. in old town's case, there is a lack of late night restaurant choices to help sober up the drunken crowd. in come the vendors. the more people in an area, the more vendors will want to be there. with more vendors in an area, the more people will know where to head for a late night food fix.

for the benefit of the city, lets hope this cyclical evolution will start spilling into the lunch time crowd, and not just the jagerbomb crowd.

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