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Posted on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Mark's Carts hosting preview night Friday before official opening next week

By Lizzy Alfs


Mark's Carts is off West Washington and South Ashley streets in downtown Ann Arbor. file photo

Mark’s Carts outdoor food courtyard in downtown Ann Arbor is planning to open just in time for warmer temperatures.

The courtyard, on West Washington and South Ashley streets behind Mark Hodesh’s Downtown Home & Garden store, is hosting a preview night from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 29. Customers can taste the carts’ new menu items, and there will be a DJ and trombone player for entertainment.

“The cart owners, after a five-month hibernation, are ecstatic to finally serve you again,” it says in a news release.


Bill's Beer Garden is adjacent to Mark's Carts in downtown Ann Arbor.

Courtesy of Bill's Beer Garden

Mark’s Carts then officially opens for its third season on April 1. Individual cart hours can be found on the Mark’s Carts website.

Dan Morse, CEO of The Beet Box, called his food cart's first year in the courtyard both a learning experience and a success.

"It was exciting," he said. "We formed a lot of really incredible relationships with customers."

The "health empowerment" cart added customizable California street food bowls to its menu this year, so people can pick and choose their ingredients.

There are eight vendors in the courtyard this year, including two newcomers: El Manantial, which serves authentic Mexican food, and Satchel’s BBQ, which has a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Washtenaw Avenue. (Read more about the new carts)

Returning vendors are: A2 Pizza Pi, San Street, Cheese Dream, Hut-K Chaats, Darcy’s Cart and The Beet Box.

The adjacent Bill’s Beer Garden will open for its second weekend of the season from 5 to 11 p.m. on April 5-7.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

I wish the hog's headcheese sandwich place would return... Dee-licious!


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

WOW! A DJ and trombone player!!! Mark really knows how to go all out for his tenants.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

This the band Mark needs to have to kick off spring:

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

I'm glad cheese dream is coming back. The Beet Box is my fav though. I'm wondering if prices will be higher this year. I hope not. Marks Carts was already becoming pretty expensive for cart food.

Chuck Saltpeter

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 4 p.m.

It ain't a party without a DJ and trombone player! Let's eat.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

I'm as excited about the re-opening as everyone else. I just hope that the construction on that monstrosity right next door isn't going to detract from the experience.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

It will

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Yes, there will probably be more stories about Mark's Carts this year. It's eight small business owners in downtown Ann Arbor, and many of our readers appreciate the information. If you have any story suggestions, you can certainly email me:


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Let's keep count of this. Story #1 on Mark's Carts for the 2013 Season.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I appreciate the coverage by on Mark's Carts as well as the other restaurants in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area. I see a lot of restaurant coverage from expansions to new restaurants to closures. How about we give a break and enjoy the news they provide. You aren't going to find much local coverage of Ann Arbor in the Detroit publications.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Yikes. Obviously a touchy subject.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Marks Carts is not a restaurant. It is an open air space with multiple independent restaurants that lease space. You're also taking my statement out of context which was referring to large retail stores like Sears at Briarwood. We do cover a number of business both seasonal and year round, but it is not up to us to make the 'news' for those businesses. Our food writers do try keep a healthy rotation of new and established restaurants in their weekly reviews as well. Thanks for you (or any other readers) have any further feedback on this feel or other content you'd like to see more or less of please feel free to shoot me an email any time!


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

I get that you do stories on other restaurants and I appreciate that but no restaurant gets the amount of press the same as Marks Carts, so if you could balance the reporting that would be great. Also you said " In addition to that, the vendors at Mark's are just a handful of hard working locals trying their hands at an entrepreneurial endeavor.", are you saying that folks who run year round businesses aren't working their hands to the bone also and in many ways it is WAY harder to run a year round bricks and mortar business and keep the doors open.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

BlueT- As Lizzy mentioned below, Mark's Carts may be small in physical size but is no different than a shopping mall like Briarwood where our headlines are usually about the individual businesses occupying the space than the actual space. In addition to that, the vendors at Mark's are just a handful of hard working locals trying their hands at an entrepreneurial endeavor. Taking on such a project is often no small task, but does open the door for future expansion like we've seen with the Lunch Room. You may see "Mark's Cart's" on a frequent basis on the site, but that's often due to the fact of where these small businesses are located, no different than referring to a larger restaurant being referenced to it being located on Main Street. Also, IMO I do think Ben, Lizzy, Jessica and our food-focused contributors do a notable job covering all angles of Ann Arbor ever-changing restaurant scene with stories on everything from a the simple repainting of a longstanding corner store sign to a young entrepreneur continuing to expand her downtown presence


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

I agree MyOpinion, how many places to eat around town that are open year round get this kind of exposure????


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

@ Kyle, baaaazing

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

Sorry MyOpinion, you're one step behind. I already have a tally going of sarcastic comments left by readers and you're not the first.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.



Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Very exciting indeed. I love Mark's Carts. However, one important piece missing from the article is that The Lunch Room will not be returning to Mark's Carts with its yummy vegan menu - because it is opening a brick and mortar restaurant in Kerrytown. Here is a link to the menu THE LUNCH ROOM NEW RESTAURANT LOCATION OPENING JUNE 2013 407 N. 5th Avenue

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

Ah. I was wondering if the Lunch Room would also return to the courtyard or nix the cart due to their move. Now I have my answer

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Good point. I've also written about The Lunch Room's big move:

Jeff Gaynor

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

I'll second this. Let's support Mark's Carts, and the fabulous former THE LUNCH BOX when it opens as THE LUNCH ROOM.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Wow, great concept. Can't believe Ann hasn't mentioned this before.