Some come for the beer, others come for the food, and others come to mingle. No matter the reason people choose to come, no one leaves Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's food truck night disappointed.
Every Thursday during the warmer months of the year, Hardywood hosts a plethora of food trucks--normally about 10--at their brewery to serve food in the parking lot beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Apart from the usual food options like burgers, pizza, and fried foods, there are also trucks that sell Asian infused tacos, ice cream, popsicles, and crepes. There's even a healthier option for vegetarians and the health-conscious.
Although the brewery is only about three years old, its kick-off food court event on April 3 drew a crowd of at least 300 people and featured a live band, four bars and about 12 different food trucks. The event on April 10 was slightly smaller, lacking the band and a couple food trucks from the week prior, but it was still very popular.
The only two inside areas at the event are the tasting room and the brewery itself. The tasting room is what you'd expect--a well-lit, tastefully designed room that's in stark contrast to the dull, brick exterior of the warehouse-looking building that houses it.
The adjacent building holds the towering brewing equipment and stacks of barrels that Hardywood uses to age some of their beers. Among the barrels and equipment, Hardywood carved out enough space for a bar and a place for people to mingle.
Last week, there was a private event inside, but normally it's open to the public, and occasionally bands play in the space.
"It's an awesome time," Doug Slaughter, a senior at Richmond, said. "I definitely recommend that all Richmond students come check it out before they graduate." He said it was his first time coming, as did the other seniors he was with.
"I wish I would have found this earlier," Steve Laszczyk, said.
Slaughter and his friends, including Keiko Hoen and Kriten Bailey, said they heard about the event through their friend, Michael Woitach, who accompanied them.
Woitach said he originally found the event last semester through a friend that volunteered at Hardywood.
"I haven't been coming to the Thursday events a lot, but I really regret not coming more because it's always a good time," he said.
"I think Richmond needed something like this," Theresa Dunn said. Dunn, who recently moved out of the state after working in Richmond for the past 7 years, said the Hardywood food truck event was great for the community.
"I love it. I think it's perfect," Dunn said. "It's just become a really good spot for Richmond, to not have to be inside a bar and be exposed to lots of different types of food and people and new beer and support the community."
Dunn, and her friend Jessica Jones, said they joked earlier about the event being a "meet market"--a place where people can organically run into old friends, and meet new ones, which they both said was a nice aspect of the event.
Although locals largely populate the event, the number of UR students present has been slowly increasing.
"Every time I come here, you always bump into more Richmond kids," Woitach said. He said the event is great for UR, and for the city of Richmond community.
Most students at Hardywood on April 10, and the week prior, said they had never heard of the food truck event, which is why they had only now taken advantage of it. Many of them said they were looking forward to coming back before the year ends.
"I'm definitely going to come here more in the coming weeks before I graduate," Slaughter said.
For more information, check out Hardywood's website and their events page at www.hardywood.com. (Pro Tip: Get there on the earlier side sometime around 6 because parking can be difficult. Tobacco Company also has a $1 per drink happy hour Thursdays from 8-9, so going there after can make for a great evening in RVA).
Contact reporter Richard Arnett at firstname.lastname@example.org