Mark's Carts to re-open at the end of the month, adds carts and beer garden

With a spree of 70-degree March days upon us, it's none too soon for the re-opening of Mark's Carts, the food cart courtyard now in its second season on Washington Street between First and Ashley in downtown Ann Arbor. The eight carts will open on March 30, from 5 to 10 p.m., to coincide with Fool Moon, a procession of luminous sculptures held as a prelude to the FestiFools puppet street party the first Sunday in April.

Three new carts will join five others from last year: The Beet Box will serve a broad base of healthy foods; A2 Pizza Pie is cooking personal pizzas in a wood-fired oven; and Cheese Dream will do assorted grilled cheese sandwiches and soups. The returning carts are: The Lunch Room, with vegan entrees, sides and desserts; San Street has Asian street food; Debajo del Sol has Spanish paella and tapas; Darcy's Cart will be open for breakfast burritos and other local items; and vegetarian street food comes from Hut K Chaat.

The on-site commercial kitchen has been upgraded with two new ovens and more work tables, according to Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden and founder of Mark's Carts. Also new this year, an emphasis on more evening hours. "That's important to us to have more carts open in the evening," Hodesh says. "Last year the carts kept their own hours and sometimes in the evening they weren't out there, or [there was] one. We're trying to encourage them to have two or three out there in the evenings."

Iffy April weather means the cart hours will be flexible, but starting May 1, at least one and hopefully all eight carts will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and up to 10 p.m. on Fridays to accompany the live music series. Saturday hours will run from roughly 10 a.m. through mid-afternoon during the first half of the summer. Sunday hours are still to be determined, as that tends to be a day off, says Phillis Engelbert, media and events coordinator for Mark's Carts and co-owner of The Lunchroom.

A beer garden in the Downtown Home and Garden parking lot from 5 to 11 every evening is planned to open by early-to-mid July. "So on the nights when the beer garden is open the carts will be open until the beer garden closes to provide food for the beer garden," Engelbert says.

Sources: Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden and founder of Mark's Carts; Phillis Engelbert, media and events coordinator for Mark's Carts and co-owner of The Lunchroom
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar

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