Food Trucks’ debut earns rave reviews

Juliana Torres, a customer service representative with Rita’s Cocina Mexicana, helps a growing line of customers with lunch orders during Friday’s opening in the Village of Marsh Bend.

Residents declared the two gourmet food trucks and beverage pavilion that opened Friday an exciting new option for the community. The food trucks, Ednas’ Provisions & Vittles and Rita’s Cocina Mexicana, are stationed next to Ednas’ on the Green beverage pavilion next to Marsh View Pitch & Putt at Cattail Recreation Area in the Village of Marsh Bend. The food trucks are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the beverage pavilion offers open-air covered seating and a curated beer and wine list and soft drinks from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. “This elevates our life to a whole new level living in The Villages,” said Diana Moore, of the Village of DeSoto, as she paused while eating her Appalachian salad from Ednas’ Provisions & Vittles. “It’s wonderful.”

She said her salad included quinoa, kamut, kale, microgreens, cucumbers, tomatoes and pecans, accompanied by a small slice of watermelon. She also complimented the homemade dressing.

Joyce McDonnell, of the Village of Fenney, tried out a plate of Charleston shrimp and cheese grits with andouille sausage.

“Oh, my gosh, this is fantastic. The shrimp is perfect,” she said. 

Her husband, Dave McDonnell, said they were first in line for Ednas’ Provisions & Vittles. His brisket sandwich with macaroni and cheese on top was “the best I’ve ever had,” he said.

Musician Joe Hand performed Friday on the pavilion’s patio overlooking the golf course. Live music is planned there a couple of times a week, and Hand said he hopes to be back frequently.

Judy and Pierre Dionne, of the Village of Largo, said they enjoyed both the food and the entertainment.

“It’s exciting for The Villages to have this and the music,” Judy said. “The more options, the better.”

Josie Villaseñor, of the Village of Pinellas, was first in line for Rita’s Cocina Mexicana, and enjoyed the tacos she ate at a table under the shade of a live oak tree next to the beverage pavilion.

“It’s good to have this option,” Villaseñor said. “It’s different than the other recreation centers.”

Recreation Facilities Manager Danny Jacobs, who is in charge of Cattail Recreation Area, said the opening of Ednas’ on the Green and the food trucks adds to the diverse opportunities in The Villages.

“It brings a highlight to the area that is new and thriving and there’s something for everybody here from the recreational opportunities to the food trucks,” he said. 

Ednas’ on the Green served beer and wine, and Ednas’ Beer Trough also was set up on the gravel near some of the picnic tables and offered a selection of eight kinds of canned or bottled beers and soft drinks to ensure little waiting.

The patio also overlooks Hogeye Preserve Pathway.

“Everyone comes down and says how beautiful it is,” said Jonathan “J.T.” Tubby, co-owner of Ednas’ food truck and the pavilion with his wife, Jordan McDonough. “In the evening with the lights on, it’s something else. It’s pretty incredible. It lights up the moss.”

Friday’s openings represent a lot of creative discussions between her, her husband and others, McDonough said.

“It’s a step into the community that we have found to be incredibly kind, welcoming and excited — as excited as we are,” she said. “It’s always surreal to have an opportunity to do something like this. You have to have incredible gratitude, which we do.”

Most of the Torres family was busy preparing food in the Rita’s food truck that the family owns.

“We’re very happy and very excited to be here,” Antonio Torres said while he prepared plates of food with his wife, son and daughter.

His wife, Patricia, named the food truck in honor of her mother, Rita, who had a food stand in Oaxaca state in southern Mexico. Rita’s Cocina Mexicana will serve her recipes, including chicken tamales with green chile sauce, steak quesadillas and chilaquiles.

Ednas’ Provisions & Vittles and Ednas’ on the Green is named for both of McDonough’s grandmothers — Edna “Skip” McDonough, who operated McDonough’s Market grocery store on Beaver Island, Michigan, and Edna “Lil” McGlocklin, who ran The Circle M supper club on Beaver Island, where the grandmothers met.

“The Ednas have lived their lives taking care of their community and family,” McDonough said. “They have touched many and we are grateful for the opportunity to honor them this way.”

Staff writer Dayna Straehley can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5408, or dayna.straehley@thevillagesmedia.com.