Food trucks now have a place of their own to gather in Aberdeen.
Local mainstay and longtime businessman Art Helton has turned part of his four-acre property by the old B&O station off of West Bel Air Avenue into Harford County's first official food truck court.
A grand opening for the site drew 400 to 500 people on Aug. 8, Helton said in a recent interview, calling it "a very good flow" all day.
"It's an alternative for entrepreneurs to go into the restaurant business," Helton said, noting food truck courts "are big all over the country. We are trying to offer a big-city opportunity in Aberdeen."
The court got started when the owner of a barbecue food truck, The Rib Cage, asked Helton about setting up by the B&O station on property Helton owns and he agreed.
The site has since drawn four more trucks: Taste of Soul, Taco Rico MD, Snack Shack and The Fork and Spoon Deli.
A fifth, from the Port Deposit-based Prost German Restaurant, will also arrive soon, Helton said.
The trucks keep their own hours, but are generally open five to six days a week, he said.
"We hope to offer an alternative to folks in Aberdeen and the greater Aberdeen area, have a taste of various food offerings that are not now available, and my hope is to have some individuals in there who have some signature food tastes that you won't find in a restaurant," he said.
The Aberdeen City Council changed the city's solicitation code in May to accommodate food trucks. City Manager Doug Miller, at the time, called food trucks "a rage" and said it was "something we definitely want to nurture."
Individual food trucks have been popping up around the area. Bel Air's Board of Town Commissioners agreed to allow them to set up two years ago after a bit of concern from established eateries in the Main Street area.
Aberdeen's new court is drawing many drivers who are just passing by on West Bel Air Avenue, as well as those outside the immediate area, Helton said.
"We are drawing people from all over the county. It's amazing," he said.
Helton hopes to get "a couple more folks," preferably some offering pit beef, seafood and a steamed shrimp or steamed crab operation.
Tasha Ozturk, owner of the new Fork and Spoon Deli, said she is happy to be part of Helton's new venture.
Ozturk's husband owns the Aberdeen Diner and she believes Fork and Spoon bring something unique to town.
"I do breakfast all day and there really isn't any breakfast-all-day spots on this side of town," she said, pointing out the food truck court is one block away from Bakerfield Elementary School and could get parents or other customers from there when school starts.
"People just driving by are going, 'What is this?'" she said of customers curious about the court. "It's like a mini-carnival every day."
The grand opening was a great experience, Ozturk said.
"It was packed. Everyone was, like, 'This is so unique. You have everything,'" she said.