BY NOW the rumors of Savannah’s first food truck park have been confirmed. One may even say dispelled, because what is actually coming to Savannah’s Starland District is so much more than a food truck park.
If you drive through the bustling Starland District, you will not miss the expansive space which now holds stacked shipping containers. These containers make up the spot that will be Starland Yard.
The creators, which include Guy Davidson, Pila Sunderland, Niko Ormond, John Benhase, and Ava Pandiani, wanted to bring locals a shareable space that would bring all of the Starland District (and Savannah) together. The focus is local fool and local art plus the accumulation of community to create a truly local Savannah experience.
Starland Yard is built with old shipping containers, cut, chopped, and combined to create something completely new out of something old. Just another example of the design and idea which reflects the area.
The sprawling space has an area for just about everything—part bar, part food truck park, part restaurant, and part meeting ground.
The team even commissioned local artist Jimmy Butcher of The Butcher Tattoo Studio to paint a big beautiful mural on the shipping container that sits above Chef Kyle Jacovino’s new pizza joint, Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana.
Ava Pandiani, the General Manager of Starland Yard, was gracious enough to take time out of her whirlwind schedule to give me a tour of the space and answer some questions, which explain what they’re doing in a little bit more detail.
Q: Tell me the story of Starland Yard.
A: The whole idea was that Starland District, for a long time, has had this dream of the come up: It is going to be great, this is going to be where Savannahians hang out, this is going to be where all these restaurants are going to be, it is going to be all of these different stores. For me, when I first moved here four years ago, my first job was at the Florence, so I heard that all the time: if we get one more restaurant down here, if there is one more thing to do down here, it is really going to happen. Then the Atlantic opened and that was great. But anyone who lives here knows that it has always been maybe this time, maybe now. I think this [Starland Yard] is the push that is really going to make it happen. Between us and Victory North, this is really making [Starland] a destination.
Q: What are some of the features that are going to be included?
A: We have a covered area that can be a private event space. We can hold up to fifty people just in the top. So we are thinking weddings, we are thinking if you want to have your corporate party for something or someone is retiring, you can have your own space.
We can fit four trucks in the rainbow drive area. And just as easily we can flip one to face [the event space]. If your group just wants Pie Society’s food truck, you can close [the event space] off easily and make it to where you can still see everyone.
There is going to be a kids area. It is going to have four foot walls so the kids are not running into trucks. If you are a parent you can sit in a covered area, you can have your kids running around. They can eat a hot dog, have a view and a beer. The idea is to make it very comfortable for everyone.
We will have bocce and cornhole. Things like that for people who want to drink a beer and play a game.
There is another container in the back that will have televisions. There will be televisions there but not the bar. If you want to watch a UGA game there is a space for you to do that. Then the bar isn’t just sports bar vibe.
Jimmy from the Butcher is doing a big mural. We have been talking to a few other artists. Part one is we want [Starland Yard] to be inclusive of the community that we are in. Especially when we are hiring, we want everyone to feel like this is their space, and they can come here. Part two is we want it to represent local artists too, which is important. That is the vibe of Starland so we want to keep that going.
Q: How will Starland Yard work?
A: We are going to be a cashless, and when I say cashless it is with an asterisk—of course some insist people on paying with cash. A cashless establishment so you can come here and open a tab immediately [at the entrance]. So now Starland Yard has my credit card swiped in with my name and my number. I can now go to Vittoria and get a pizza and put it on the tab. I can go to the bar and get a drink and put it on the tab. I can go to Pie Society, get a blueberry cobbler and put it on the tab. The exit will be on the other side of the entrance, so when people are coming out they will checkout, they will get one check, and they pay at one time.
The one exception to the rule is that Kyle is quasi-independent. If you want to come in and just get a pizza then leave, we will still check your ID to make sure you are 21, but if you just want to pay at Vittoria you can.