Tyler restaurant owner plans food park - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Tyler restaurant owner plans food park

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

One Tyler restaurant owner has a plan to bring a new food concept to his neighborhood, and now he's working with city officials to try to make that dream a reality.

Nick Pencis, who owns Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Que, wants to build a food park.

He has many reasons for doing so, from the fact that Tyler has a young college crowd who need more social activities to improving a neighborhood he cares a lot about to helping other people make their dreams a reality.

"I think it's just a great way to give young entrepreneurs a chance to prove themselves - show their menu, show their skill, build a fan base, and then after a year or whatever, they have a proven track record where they could go to the bank if they want a brick and mortar restaurant and say, look, here's what I did out of an 8' by 15' box," said Pencis.

Pencis says the idea of the food park isn't original.

"A food park is a collection of individual vendors and entrepreneurs who have awesome food concepts," he said, but added that a food park in Tyler is an idea that's time has come.

And when Pencis saw the overgrown, uneven lot by the train tracks where a grocery store used to be, he could see the potential for a lot of talented people who want to get into the restaurant business.

"As a talented chef or as a food entrepreneur, it's really hard to just start a brick and mortar restaurant. It's extremely expensive. It's very risky. It's really risky to a bank if you have no way of proving what you're capable of or what you can do," said Pencis. "It's the easiest way to prove your concept as a food talent."

But right now, Pencis is working with Tyler's Planning and Zoning Committee to make the dream happen. The city needs to rezone the property, and there are several improvements that need to be made to the lot and the street before the food park can be built.

A lot of people think of food trucks making up a food park, but Pencis says the city's ordinances aren't friendly for trucks, so he's got another idea.

"We want to use recycled shipping containers to turn each one into its own little individual kitchen, and have a cluster of them together with commons eating in the middle," Pencis said.

Pencis says his overall goal is to make his neighborhood a better place.

"This is going to give people a shot at doing something really awesome, getting to do what they love. And in return, people who love food are going to get an opportunity that we just don't have around here," he said.

The Planning and Zoning Committee will meet again to talk about approving the food park in early July.

The idea would then have to be approved by the city council.

Pencis says he hopes the park is up and running by the end of the year, and eventually he says he hopes he can start a second food park on the other side of Tyler to give more people the chance to make good food.

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