Food trucks are popular in Dallas, and there’s a city council push to get more mobile food vendors up and running and expand the number of places they can be found.
But city employees put brakes on the pressure Tuesday over concerns about food security and the capacity of code-inspectors to contend with vendors.
One of the best known places to find food trucks in Dallas is Klyde Warren Park in downtown, where five food trucks were open for business Tuesday.
One of the trucks was Organic Fried Chicken, owned by Patrick Gibbons.
He said he has developed a good following among customers from as far away as Frisco and Fort Worth.
“It’s my only truck and I have about $ 110,000 in it,” Gibbons said.
Food trucks receive annual operating licenses from the city of Dallas.
But cheaper food trailers require daily operating permits along with other restrictions under current Dallas rules.
“You have to go through hangers and ladders galore if you want a food trailer, and food trailers cost a lot less,” said City Councilman Chad West.
The Dallas City Quality of Life Committee on Tuesday discussed options to level the playing field for adding more providers of mobile feeds and more locations where they can operate.
“We are behind as a city in this. We are decades behind other big cities. So let’s see how we can catch up, “said Councilor Omar Narvaez.
Councilwoman Paula Blackmon suggested White Rock Lake Park and other park locations as possible locations for mobile food vendors.
“We always hear that people want to get on their bikes somewhere and go, and I think this could be a great opportunity,” Blackmon said.
City staff recommended moving forward with only part of a reform plan on Tuesday.
“I’m just a little bit in doubt about what the wait is for,” said committee chairman Adam Bazaldua. “When the political work continues to stall, I like that there is a reason behind it.”
Assistant Mayor Joey Zapata said law enforcement officials are concerned that proposed changes to bylaws and staff are in line with best practices for healthy food service.
“I just want to know that we’re looking at model cities where they have the scale that we do,” Zapata said.
Council members requested that staff return in March with a complete plan to be sent to the full Dallas City Council for a final vote in time for the expansion of mobile food delivery services by the spring.
Customers at Klyde Warren Park on Tuesday supported several mobile dining options.
“I think if they could reduce the cost for people who want to start a business and be able to do it safely, then it would again be beneficial for everyone,” said customer Stassa Johnson.
Organic Fried Chicken owner Patrick Gibbons said there is room for more competition.
“When I set up about a year ago, I realized that the city’s policies on food trucks are very outdated,” he said. “It was not aimed at modern food trucks. It was aimed at small pop-up vendors going to construction sites.”
Emily Williams Knight, a spokeswoman for the Texas Restaurant Association, said brick-and-mortar eateries that have much higher operating costs are keeping a close eye on Dallas’ mobile food vendor expansion plans.
But she said some restaurant operators prefer to have the option of joining the mobile food sales method for sale so they are not automatically opposed.