Food truck scene flourishes with new gardens

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In the past decade or so, the St. Louis dining landscape has been transformed by food trucks, popular mobile kitchen units serving specialty items like unique sandwiches, ethnic dishes, indulgent treats and more. 

Customers lining up for food trucks at 9 Mile Garden in Affton. Photo contributed by 9 Mile Garden.

The craze has given way to food truck gardens like 9 Mile Garden and Frankie Martin’s Garden – the first ones in Missouri – designed to be family-friendly venues where people can gather to enjoy food, live music, movie nights and more.  

“I had partners that had some land available,” Brian Hardesty, a local chef and founder of the popular food truck Guerrilla Street Food, said. “So, I told them an idea I had in mind of starting food trucks.”

9 Mile Garden opened in Affton in South St. Louis County in the summer of 2020 as a partnership between Hardesty, who serves as managing partner, and Seneca Commercial Real Estate. 

“What I like most about it is that it brings people together,” Hardesty said about 9 Mile Garden.

Every day, except on Mondays, 9 Mile Garden has a rotating schedule of local food truck vendors for lunch and dinner service, along with a slate of activities and entertainment such as wine tastings, movies, live bands, artisan markets and more, especially on the weekends. 

An audience attending an event at 9 Mile Garden. Photo contributed by 9 Mile Garden.

The variety of food choices are as varied as the people who come to dine there – barbecue, sushi, tacos, pizzas, sliders, mac and cheese, loaded fries and more. Dessert trucks are part of the lineup, too, including favorites like Scoops, Pete’s Pops and Fire & Ice Cream.   

The on-site bar, The Canteen, is designed as a modern draft house, offering a large selection of local and national beer, as well as cider, cocktails and wine. The 4,500-square-foot space has seating and also room to play a variety of free games. 

“I heard the place was amazing. Therefore, I had to go,” diner Brandy Nugert said. 

Due to the success of 9 Mile Garden, which opened at the height of the pandemic in July 2020, Hardesty and his partners looked to expand in Cottleville in St. Charles County. 

“The idea was to have more than one garden,” Hardesty said. “I’d even like to take it outside of Missouri.” 

Frankie Martin’s Garden, which opened in July 2022, has a concept similar to 9 Mile, with its family-friendly environment and offerings such as movies, games and, of course, the food trucks.

“I loved that they moved one here,” customer Stella Easter said. “I feel like I’m in a different land when I’m here.”

Frankie Martin’s Garden got its name from Cottleville resident Frankie Martin, who was known for his warm personality and for being charitable. His 130-year-old brick home, which is located on the property, has been renovated and now called The House, where whiskey and wine are served in an intimate setting. The House has more than 200 types of whiskey and more than 40 wine selections.  

“There are just so many options for our customers to enjoy – so many,” Hardesty said. 

Both gardens are open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, for lunch and dinner. The food truck schedule changes on a daily basis, with the lineup announced beforehand on the social media pages for 9 Mile and Frankie Martin’s Garden. 

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Lonnie Walton
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