Street Food Festival to Highlight Progress and Potential of Walnut Hills

1391627_499302080165916_699884893_nOne year ago city officials and community leaders stood at the intersection of McMillian Street and Park Avenue in Walnut Hills to celebrate an effort that was decades in the making, the conversion of McMillan and William Howard Taft from one way streets to two way streets. That same day, Walnut Hills also celebrated its first Street Food Festival along Gilbert Avenue. One year later, the festival has now moved to McMillan Avenue, this time to celebrate past achievements and future possibilities.

“The two-way conversion of McMillan allows us to move the festival to this location. It’s a neighborhood street again,” Kevin Wright, Executive Director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation (WHRF) told UrbanCincy.

Food trucks and street carts provide popular dining options all over the country. While regarded early on as a trend, it seems now that these tough but successful business models are working hard and are here to stay. Cincinnati’s growing food truck fleet has been offering high quality eats across many of the Greater Cincinnati Area’s neighborhoods, providing everything from pizza and burgers to gelato and cookies.

Cincinnati food trucks are a sought after addition to any local event and many Cincinnatians have come to appreciate when a few of the area’s food trucks come together to serve the City Flea, the downtown or OTR lunch rush, the late night bar crowd, area breweries and many local festivals. This Saturday, however, the food trucks themselves will take center stage at the second Cincinnati Street Food Festival in Walnut Hills.

The Cincinnati Street Food Festival will be the largest gathering of food trucks in the area, with 17 food trucks and street vendors lining McMillan Street between Hemlock and Chatham. Hosted by the WHRF, this free event will also have live music from local bands, beer from Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, and fun for the whole family.

The Street Food Festival is just one piece of the WHRF’s focused efforts on the McMillan Street corridor. These efforts include events like the Five Points Beirgarten, strategic property acquisition, demolition, and stabilization as well as transportation and development initiatives like form-based code and last years two-way conversions of McMillan and Taft. Additionally, there are greater plans in the works with the successful stabilization of the Firehouse and the adjoining building completed earlier this year.

“This is the beginning of Phase One of the redevelopment of Peeble’s Corner. Over the next 12-18 months you will begin to see a focus by the WHRF in the Copelen to Gilbert section of McMillan.” Wright told UrbanCincy, “This small stretch will be our first real place making opportunity.”

Construction is slated to begin this week with completion of the buildings by February. Wright stated he has heard rumors of interest from one of the many food truck vendors in opening a brick and mortar store in one of the rehabbed buildings but no final plans have been disclosed regarding which one it will be.

The festival will give people a chance to appreciate Cincinnati’s many diverse food trucks, meet-up with friends and neighbors, rediscover one of Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods and check out some of the initial changes happening in the area.

For a full list of the available food, beer and entertainment offerings, visit

Or, if you really can’t wait, visit the Cincinnati Food Truck Association to find where your favorite food trucks are located on a day to day basis.

  • Nicole Richter

    It is hard to get excited about a neighborhood whose redevelopment foundation states that one of its primary goals is demolition.

    • Neil Clingerman

      They’ve already done way more demos than they should have. While there has been a lot of good stuff going on here, it doesn’t mask the defeatist attitude of “this will never be second to downtown”. Similar districts in much larger cities are widly successful in part due to their intensity and Cincinnati should have taken advantage of it :P. I’m hoping that the infill will be of something better quality than one is used to seeing in Cincinnati – something better than the vinyl sided monstrosities that have popped up all over the area around campus.

  • Jonathan Hay

    We should consider turning the north/south roads downtown into 2 way from their current one way. This would add to downtowns walkability and people could do less driving to get where they wanted to go.

    • Jules Michael Rosen

      As a Downtown resident, I actually find walkability easier with one-way roads. You only have to look in one direction.

    • Eric

      You’re right, it makes crossing more predictable but I find the two-lane turn lanes troubling. The issue with one ways is that people tend to speed as they do on Main St, buses included.

    • charles ross

      And Main in particular suffers from double parking. People feel less entitled to pull that on a two way street. Hoping the street car crimps down on that.
      McMillan is looking a little better in WH, Peebles corner sure needs love.

    • Eric

      That is part of the 2002 OTR Comp Plan for north of Central but there doesn’t seem to be any momentum for it from city transpo from the lack of feedback I’ve received on if that’s a planned project (the plan itself is over 10 years old). Now would be the time to do it with the streetcar improvements, but I think there is still deference to Main St, Walnut St, etc, even in OTR as major commuter routes, rather than residential or neighborhood streets. As usual the Gateway Quarter gets the attention and investment of actually converting to 2-way.

    • Main, Walnut, Race, and Elm need to remain one-way since they will have rail running on them. Vine and Sycamore are already two-way in OTR. I think the majority of streets in Pendleton, and the majority of east-west streets in OTR would work better as two-way.

    • Eric

      The streetcar will only be going down one block of Main and Walnut in OTR. The fledgling businesses on north Main St want it and the OTR plan calls for it. If it was the Gateway Quarter, it would’ve already been converted.

    • That’s true, but future rail plans need to be taken into consideration. Some of the previous light rail proposals included using the Main Street for northbound and Walnut Street for southbound all the way through downtown and OTR.

      That may or may not happen in that way, but we should keep future uses of the streets in mind when making decisions like this.

    • I could see converting Walnut to 2-way through OTR spreading development much as it has on Vine. At the very least it would give Walnut more traffic. Right now it’s largely ignored.

  • When is this festival? And also, the link for “Cincinnati Street Food Festival” is missing http:// and doesn’t work.