For Gainesville residents in need of an outdoor space to unwind and grab a bite to eat, the Innovation District’s latest addition is open for business.
Midpoint Park & Eatery, Gainesville’s newest food and leisure destination owned by Trimark Properties, opened March 1 and is located at 931 SW Second Ave.
The fully fenced park offers a recreational green space equipped with hammocks, giant Adirondack chairs, misting fans and shaded outdoor seating for up to 80 people. Locals can gather, relax and experience some of the area’s most unique flavors — with the park permanently hosting four stationary food trucks.
Matthew Luedecke, director of commercial properties at Trimark Properties, said Midpoint’s opening was a response to complaints about a lack of lunch options within walking distance of Trimark offices.
The park’s development, he said, had been in the works for nearly two years, with employees workshopping the best way to maximize land not already slated for commercial development while also introducing a variety of new restaurant alternatives. Luedecke said he overcame these limitations by referencing solutions he’s seen in other locations, such as Orlando’s Boxi Park and Miami’s Wynwood Walls.
When selecting the most effective location for Midpoint Park & Eatery, Luedecke said it was important that the spot be accessible by both employees and students of UF, as well as centralized for office workers in the Innovation District.
Selecting restaurants to operate from the parked food trucks also involved several factors, especially in finding options that were complimentary without being competitive, Luedecke said.
He said he was excited to provide individuals with the opportunity to start a restaurant with a drastically lower cost of entry into the market than they would usually find.
Keller’s Kitchen, an American-style bistro kitchen and one of the four food trucks stationed at Midpoint, is brand new to the restaurant scene. Leasing and renovating a traditional restaurant space, Luedecke said, would have been a massive capital expenditure — an economic risk circumvented by testing out the concept at Midpoint.
“It creates a much lower barrier of entry for potential restaurateurs,” Luedecke said. “We’re hopeful that means we’ll get new restaurants in the district and people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to open a restaurant.”
John Fleming, managing partner of Trimark Properties, said he visited the park last Friday and was thrilled to find it busy. He spoke to visitors and vendors, both of which were happy with the location, he said.
In the future, Fleming said he plans on building a stage at Midpoint to allow local artists to perform. He is also currently working on a bill through the state to potentially allow alcohol sales by vendors in the future, he said.
Mackenzie Kurth, a 20-year-old UF advertising major, also visited the park last Friday. Kurth lives a short walk away from Midpoint Park & Eatery and said she first became interested in checking out the area after driving by the food trucks.
Kurth said she was impressed by the variety of food options available at each truck. The decorations and scenery also made for a great environment to take photos, she said. Although she was surprised by how many visitors the park seemed to get in its first week alone, she said she felt comfortable that the area adhered to COVID guidelines.
Compared to other activities in Downtown Gainesville that can be a drive away, Kurth said Midpoint Park & Eatery provides a great addition to the community.
“It’s nice having something in walking distance with more food options and fresh air,” she said.
Residents can visit the park seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., though individual restaurant hours vary.
Contact Veronica Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @vernocera.
Veronica Nocera is a first-year Journalism major with a History minor. This is her first semester on staff for The Alligator, where she works as Avenue News Assistant. She also writes for Rowdy Magazine.