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Could More Food Trucks Make Dallas More Fun?

The mayor and city council certainly hope so

Customers sit at wooden picnic tables on a dirt patio at Truck Yard in Lower Greenville. To the left is a silver Airstream with a red sign reading “bar” and to the right is a red food truck called The Crazy Pig
Outside at Lower Greenville’s Truck Yard
Truck Yard

Every city in Texas is a car city, and Dallas and Fort Worth are no exception. But as more walkable places are developed, we’re seeing more and more food halls spring up to serve them rather than fields of food trucks. What’s up with that?

Dallas city council unanimously approved a measure intending to make it a lot easier to get into the food truck business, WFAA reports. Mayor Eric Johnson’s office stated that the mayor considered passing the eased restrictions, and increasing the number of food trucks in Dallas, a top priority. “Together, we are working to make Dallas more vibrant and more fun,” the mayor tweeted.

The most significant change is perhaps that now what constitutes a food truck will be broader. It can include “non-motorized options,” per the Dallas Morning News, which puts covered trailers and containers into play — including shipping containers. Many reports have noted that a proper food truck can cost $100,000 or more, while trailers may only cost $20,000 to $30,000.

That can make a huge difference for a lot of entrepreneurs. Umar Baig of the Halal Mother Truckers told Eater Dallas that he wouldn’t have started his business if not for food trucks and the lower price point to enter the food space. While he says he has been advocating for looser restrictions from the city and commends the changes they’ve enacted, he has some words of caution.

“I do think some rules and regulations should stay in tact,” Baig says. “I like the idea of regulated parks but I don’t like the idea of food trucks and trailers parked in a gas station or something like that....What happens with so many trucks is not all of them are gonna be good. The competition rises and the only way to beat each other is to lower prices.”

As the mayor’s office says, the changes also ease the burden or lower the barrier to entry by allowing food trucks to apply for an annual license and reducing inspection fees for certain carts and trucks. And trucks will now only have to travel to the commissary to prepare food once a week, rather than every day they operate.

Additionally, the measure eases a restriction on food preparation. Previously, food trucks could only serve frozen, breaded, and fried chicken and seafood, with an exception for seafood that was meant to be served raw. Now, food trucks need to meet health code standards.

After the success of the temporary mobile food park in South Dallas, which was put together by Better Block and Do Right by the Streets with some grant funding, back in April of 2021, D Magazine reported that it kicked off a conversation between the organizers and city council as issues with complying with city ordinances reared their heads.

The next step for the city of Dallas, according to Mayor Johnson, is to explore a pilot program in city parks and green spaces that will increase the number of food trucks in Dallas by establishing zones they can operate in. According to the DMN, that could look like a 60-day program in May or June, allowing trucks in Kiest Park in South Oak Cliff and Pacific Plaza in Downtown Dallas.

It’s evident that Dallas lags behind Austin and Houston in its food truck scene. The number of trucks at Klyde Warren Park has thinned significantly. With the cost of real estate out of reach for many, food trucks are a smart place to invest in incubating what could become Dallas’s next great food experience.

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