A new haven for lovers of food and art alike has come to Franklin Street.
Tucked behind Lantern Restaurant, Garden Spot is a local initiative working to connect emerging small food businesses with the community.
Lantern’s new project hosted its first series of pop-up events in late July. Vendors apply to be part of a four- to six-week-long residency, during which they serve their food each weekend.
The vendors participating in the first series of pop-up events offered cuisine from a variety of cultures: African tacos, ice cream inspired by South Indian and Arabic flavors, classic soul food and Mexican-inspired dishes.
“We're particularly wanting to support minority-owned and queer-owned businesses, knowing that, on Franklin Street and more broadly, that people in those communities have had difficulty accessing some of the capital and assets required to start up enterprises, even though a lot of those small food enterprises are owned by people of color and the queer community,” Abby Parcell, Garden Spot’s program coordinator, said.
Andrea Reusing, owner and chef at Lantern, said the idea started during the pandemic and that the Town of Chapel Hill’s ReVive Recovery Grant helped with initial funds for the project.
Reusing saw Garden Spot as a valuable place to help support new businesses that lack traditional access to capital.
“Franklin Street tends to be talked about as if it means the same thing to everybody, no matter who you are — whether you're an alumni or your family has lived here for five generations or you're an undergrad,” Reusing said. “But I think what a lot of people don't understand about Franklin Street is not everybody in our community truly feels welcome on Franklin Street.”
Garden Spot offers an unusual opportunity for vendors to participate with no fee, removing the financial boundaries of selling at a market, Parcell said.