April 2013
Let Me Explain… By Pete Mihalek

Habersham Gardens proves you don't always need a cafe to provide your customers fun food options. Take, for example, this retailer's most recent buzzworthy foray into food — food trucks.

H abersham Gardens recognizes the important role food can play in attracting customers new and old.

The Atlanta-based, locally-owned garden center is a CSA (community supported agriculture) pickup location for local farmers and shareholders. It has also hosted the filming of a local chef’s cooking demo.

Habersham proves you don’t always need a cafe to provide your customers fun food options while they enjoy the green side of your business, too.

Take, for example, this retailer’s most recent buzzworthy foray into food — food trucks.

Licensed to Fill

The food truck scene in Atlanta, Ga., is a relatively new one, Deb Harrison, Habersham Gardens’ owner and general manager, explains. “It was hard getting our city officials to accept mobile food, and for the first couple of years, applications for licensing were always turned down.”

Harrison kept a close eye on this “mobile” trend as it gained steam, especially in her city. Finally, last year, two trucks got licensed. One of which — Souper Jenny — already had a successful soup, sandwich and salad brick-and-mortar restaurant in town.

“We immediately began communicating with Souper Jenny’s owner about scheduling a food truck visit to Habersham Gardens in early spring as a kickoff for the season,” Harrison says. “Thanks to her business’ popularity, we cross-promoted the visit through both of our rather large email lists.”

The turnout was “fabulous” because of it. Many new potential customers came out to Habersham for the first time.

“It was a new audience, and for us that was the most beneficial aspect,” she says.

The Second Course

While in the midst of planning with Souper Jenny, the other food truck — Yumbii — featured a unique Asian-Mexican fusion menu and became an instant hit all over Atlanta.

With more than 7,000 Twitter followers and 3,000 Facebook “likes,” Yumbii would notify fans through social media of the food truck’s next stop (the day of).

“Next thing you know, mobs of people would show up at a given location for their Korean short-rib tacos and sesame french fries,” she says. “The food was just incredible”

The Habersham Gardens team didn’t waste much time reaching out to the Yumbii owner with a simple proposal promoting three Habersham strengths: cool venue, ideal location and a large email list.

“We hosted the Yumbii truck three times last spring and each time it was a mob scene. And our sales were excellent, too.”

Limited by zero parking spaces, the garden center’s staff improvised by clearing an area for the trucks near the store’s front gate. This made it easy for the food truck to back in and still have plenty of space for a long line of hungry patrons.

“We’re making them the main event, and not putting them in the back of the garden center where people would have to hike to get to them,” she explains. “There were no expenses on our end. We just had to clear up some space and round up whatever tables and chairs we could.

“It’s all been very worthwhile for us and it brought in a much younger crowd, which was great for us, too.”

For 2013, Habersham Gardens has plans to work with some of Atlanta’s newer, different food trucks.


Habersham Gardens proves you don’t always need a cafe to provide your customers fun food options. Take, for example, this retailer’s most recent buzzworthy foray into food — food trucks.







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