Mount Airy makes a night of it with Food Trust help

Posted: August 16, 2012

As the sun set Thursday evening over Germantown Avenue, hungry visitors formed lines dozens deep for local food of all types: caramel ice cream, biscuit sandwiches, pizza baked in a mobile oven.

The event, dubbed the "Mount Airy Edition," was the seventh in the Night Market Philadelphia series put on by the Food Trust, a city nonprofit. Other Night Market events have taken place in East Passyunk, Chinatown, and University City. Mount Airy, which hosted a Night Market last August, was the first repeat location.

Several thousand people turned out to listen to live music and sample offerings from local restaurants and traveling food vendors, more than 50 in all.

Laura Weinbaum, a mother of three from Center City, said the Night Markets provide a fun activity a family can enjoy.

"I like the food, the atmosphere. . . . It's just nice, a beautiful night, and there's music," said Weinbaum, who has been to several previous Night Markets, including the first one in East Passyunk in October 2010. "It's fun for the kids, a nice thing to do before school starts."

After last year's Night Market, the Mount Airy USA community development corporation knew that it had a success on its hands, said executive director Anuj Gupta.

"The businesses loved it, and we have a terrific business and restaurant community that immediately wanted it back," Gupta said. "The biggest question was how we were going to make back the costs."

The operating costs - police, trash pickup, and so on - added up to about $30,000, Gupta said, with Mount Airy USA paying for $24,000 of that. That money came from sponsorships, vendor fees, and other revenue sources, such as sales of Mount Airy T-shirts. The Food Trust picked up the rest of the cost.

"Part of the reason why we do these events is to showcase these great communities and all that they have to offer," said Diana Minkus, the Food Trust's project coordinator for Night Market Philadelphia. "And now we're working on a sustainability model for Night Market, so we're going back to some communities and taking a little bit of a backseat and supporting them, consulting with them to take on more ownership over the event."

The Food Trust has been recognized nationally for its work in promoting farmers' markets and urban nutrition. The Night Markets fit with the agency's goals, said Nicky Uy, a senior associate at the Food Trust, because of their accessibility.

"It's a way to bring communities together," Uy said. "It's a way for people to try food they've never tried, but in a safe, nonintimidating setting."


Contact Jonathan Lai

at 215-854-5151, jlai@philly.com, or on Twitter @Elaijuh.

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