Thursday, June 21, 2012

Food Truck Park News

Over the last week, there has been quite a bit of news about the various food truck parks in the Metroplex, so I thought it a good time to compile all the information that I have about all of the parks and sort through the ins and outs. 

Starting in Tarrant County:

The Fort Worth Food Park, the first food truck park in the area continues to do very well and has made some changes  recently including adding a cantina where patrons can purchase beer and alcohol.  The trucks that go to the Fort Worth Park tell me that sales have not been impacted by the opening of the second park in Forth Worth. 

The Cowtown Chowdown opened in May and is continuing to work to establish itself. Events to bring awareness to the park are underway including a weekly visit from TCU's Orientation students and a July Truck Cook-off sponsored by the TX Department of Agriculture Go Texan program. The vast majority of the trucks that visit Cowtown are also setting up at other locations in Fort Worth, with only three trucks being exclusive to the Chowdown. 

The Keller Food Park has posted on Facebook and Twitter that they will be open in July 2012.  An article in the Keller Citizen reported that this week the park received the approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission and would be voted on at the July 17 City Council meeting.  The article goes on to say that the park will start with four trucks and may grow to have a total of eight trucks. I have been asking around and so far have not found any trucks that have committed to being at the park, so we will have to wait and see the exact opening date for this park and what trucks will be there. 

This week, the Seventh Street Truck Court received its approval to have four trucks at 2700 W. 7th Street, the site of the former 7th Haven.  The Fort Worth Business Press reports that the park will be open from 7:00 am to 2:00 am seven days a week and have "upscale gourmet trucks".  A new Fort Worth truck, The Grill Kings has posted on Facebook that they will located at Seventh Street and Cruzin Chef, a crepe truck that so far has only been out at Cowtown Chowdown tells me that they will also be at Seventh Street.  I am excited about this location but also concerned about parking. This winter, when 7th Haven was open, parking in this area was a real problem and cars were being towed on a regular basis. Hopefully the permitting process for the park accounted for the traffic that will come back to the area and the owners have an idea of how to deal with the parking to the satisfaction of the City. 

Back in March, someone using the Twitter name Colonial Food Park posted on Twitter saying that there would be a food truck park on in Southwest Fort Worth. The last tweet was March 25 saying "a vote was one week away".  No more tweets have been sent and the account owner has not responded to my messages so I do not have a status on this park.

Moving over to Dallas County, food truck parks are as mystical as the Loch Ness monster, often talked about but never seen. However, this week, there have two sightings that could very well be the real thing arising out of the deep.  

Cedars Food Park has set up a website and contacted Dallas trucks about their proposed park. This park would be on the grounds of the Dallas Heritage Village.  I exchanged emails with the developer today and he tells me that they are still finalizing details and logistics about the park. One item worth noting, on the Food Park website there is a list of trucks, this is not the list of trucks that have committed to being at Cedars, but a list of many of the Dallas trucks.  There has been some confusion on whether these trucks have agreed to be at the park and the answer is No.

For months there has been talk of parks on Lowest Greenville and in West Dallas. I have not been able to get a status on the Lowest Greenville park, back at the end of 2011 it was being reported that the park was still being planned, next door to a Trader Joe's but that the park would be added after Trader Joe's opens in October. I am continuing to watch for more information on this location and the proposed design of this park. 

This week brought some specific information about the West Dallas Park, or Dallas West Trailer Park as it is called.  LaGrange will be opening a snow cone trailer at 400 Commerce as soon as they can get a Certificate of Occupancy from the City of Dallas.  It is expected that other trailers will soon set up in this location, to house retail establishments as well as restaurants restaurants The vision for this park is the Airstream style trailers so I don't expect to see the large catering style trucks that are part of the Dallas food truck scene but anything is possible as things evolve. 

It will be very interesting to see how all of these parks develop.  At this time, I think DFW needs more trucks to adequately support all the parks and all the locations that want food trucks on site. Time will tell if more trucks enter the market because of the parks or if some of these parks never get to full capacity. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Food Trucks Help Raise Money and Build Awareness For Lake Highlands

Even after a year out on the streets, the food trucks of DFW continue to draw crowds and bring awareness to great causes. Such was the case Saturday night when the food trucks were invited to Lake Highlands on behalf of the Lake Highlands Branding Committee to participate in LH StrEATS. The goal of the event was to raise funds, through a $5 admission fee, for the Branding Committee to continue its work of uniting the community under one brand. 

Like all of the food trucks participating in the event I had often heard of Lake Highlands but had never been there, so I was not sure what to expect at this event.  As I drove up, I saw hundreds of cars, parked in a grass field and knew immediately that this event was going to be a success.   

For two solid hours, I watched the lines for the eight food trucks in attendance continually have 30 - 40 people. Some lines moving more quickly than others but only one truck sold out completely before they left for a private event at another location. While the trucks were serving, singer Annie Benjamin was entertaining the crowds with singing and kids played in the water fountains. 

By the time the trucks rolled away, the Lake Highlands Branding Committee estimated that 2,000 people had  passed through the festival and by all accounts the event was a success for everyone.  Branding Committee Media Contact Ginger Greenberg said, "We think the event was a success on two fronts – one, it helped us the word out about the branding initiative and two, it demonstrated that the Lake Highlands Town Center is ready for retail and restaurants – we are hungry for it. We were very pleased with the event and hope to repeat it---with more food trucks."

Showing that food truck events are win/win for all, food truck owner, Christina MacMicken of Good Karma Kitchen told me that this 3 hour event was the best day they had ever had since opening in December.  

As more and more groups look for ways to raise funds and provide something unique to their members, food trucks events like the one in Lake Highlands are something that will be considered more and more often.  With the right number and variety of trucks attendees can be sure that every member of the family will eat well,  event sponsors can be sure that funds will be raised, relatively easily and food trucks can know that on a hot summer night they can sell to hundreds of excited customers. 

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