Mobile Food Vendors Mobilize

MOBILE FOOD VENDORS MOBILIZE A collective formed by more than 2 dozen food-truck operators plans to roll on city hall later this month — to present the mayor and council members with a list of proposed changes to city ordinances, fire code, and health regulations that restrict where and how Houston’s growing fleet of mobile food units can operate. The changes promoted by Mobile Food Unit Houston would get rid of current rules requiring food trucks and trailers to park more than 60 ft. away from each other, allow a single propane permit to cover multiple locations, and lift the ban on using propane fuel in the Med Center and Downtown. The changes would also allow their customers to sit down, lifting current rules that prohibit the sale of food-truck food near seating areas and letting them to set up limited numbers of tables and chairs on their own. [Mobile Food Unit Houston; previously on Swamplot]

24 Comment

  • The City should replace the 60 foot rule with a rule that lets neighborhoods and managment districts set up “no food truck areas”, through an application process similar to the prohibited yard parking ordinance. In some places food trucks add to the charm. In others they are a nuisance.

  • I don’t see how any politician in a representative government could be against any of these proposals.

  • ZAW – good idea, better email city council

  • All those rule changes seem pretty reasonable to me. If people want food trucks, they’ll buy food from them and that’s a vote right there that they’re wanted. If they’re not wanted, they won’t do well and they’ll move somewhere that wants them.
    I don’t know why the city needs to be so involved in the process.

  • Cody, it’s because the city never, absolutely never, gives up a chance to regulate (read: collect a fee).

  • Health and safety are the only reasonably justified regulations on food trucks.

    Although I might not want to let them claim public space by setting out their own chairs and tables.

  • I agree with awp, it would be easy to see how a static restaurant would be bothered by Mobile Food Trucks getting to use public space to set up chairs/tables. I could see the city selling permits to allow the set up chairs/tables in appoved public spaces (sort of like charging rent to the mobile food truck for land usage) but on private lots it should obviously be allowed.

  • I really do not understand this food truck craze but agree that some of their demands seem reasonable. However, I do have issue with allowing a food truck to set up its own seating. Fine to park in an area with established seating, but one should consider general pedestrian traffic as a whole.

  • I am learning to take advantage of opportunities to predict the future of this city. So here goes:
    Mobile Food Truck Mafia will storm City Hall with largest contingent of tattooed hipsters since Occupy Houston was evicted from the park. They are scary, and asking too much, so they will get laughed out of the room. Meanstwhile, their brick-n-mortar (requisite term apparently) competition is going to get wind of their legitimate grab at the crown and do them like Silver Eagle Distributors did the Little Guy: civil smack down. Suddenly, Mgmt Districts, HOAs, and SNs (conspiracy theory hat tip to ZAW) are going to become obsessed with drafting their own resolutions in an effort to limit the coming scourge of mobile fine dining and (possibly pedestrian) fine patrons.
    I’m taking wagers on this prediction–Who’s got odds? What’s my over/under?

  • Can’t imagine why they allow these trucks anywhere unless they pay rent to a land owner. Land is either public or private. You’re trespassing if you don’t have permission to park on private land, and city streets/land are certainly not designed for this.

  • What’s more, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to eat food from one of these trucks. No running water says it all for me.

  • Pamela, the trucks do have running water It’s a requirement.

  • To explain the seating rule, in Austin, some landowners of vacant lots have decided to rent out space for mobile food trucks to park semi-permanently. These lots usually have picnic tables for patrons to sit at after they purchase a meal. They are kind of like an outdoor food court. Under current Houston city ordinances, this is banned. I don’t see the intention of this change in city regulations as saying the food vendors wish to set up tables and chairs on random city sidewalks. On the contrary, if they are set up, say, in a nightclub parking lot, they could set out a few chairs in the parking lot. The ordiance as written seems to be at the behest of restaurant owners who prefer to limit competition.

  • 77027 – You should have gotten the comment of the day for that post. Well done.

    Pamela – Your posts were gobsmackingly ignorant. As has already been said, food trucks have running water. We’re not talking about roach coaches in the heart of Mexico City. These truck all have to follow fairly stringent city codes in order to operate. Furthermore, they are not trespassing. Often times they operate within a pretty copacetic arrangement with businesses who host them. The two businesses will often draw additional customers to each during off-peak times.

    rgr – The reason many of us like to eat at food trucks is because they can offer some truly innovative cuisine with excellent ingredients for a low cost because their operating overhead is much less. Sometimes we just want good food without having to pay for the full blown “dining experience” that comes from going to a nice sit-down restaurant.

  • Well said, Seabird. No running water?? HAHAHA! It’s no wonder the rest of the country (STILL) thinks Houston and Houstonians are hicks. Other cities, San Francisco and New York to name a few, have wonderful food via food trucks. Houston is never going to be a world-class city without embracing more diverse food-offerings. DON’T want to eat from food trucks? FINE. Let people who want more than the typical greasy, fatty, unhealthy fare that most Houston restaurants serve, have tasty alternatives. QUIT YOUR BITCHIN’!!!

  • I am curious as to the running water thing.

    Without being connnected to a fresh water faucet, these trucks must have a finite amount of “running water” on board, right?

    Not making judgement here, just really curious. I’ve only ever eaten at food trucks when in places like festivals, Round Top Antique Fair and Canton and even Brimfield MA, where these trucks are connected not only to fresh water but also electricity.

    So, in addition to cooking needs, how do the trucks manage all their hand washings too? And water is heavy so hauling it in drums would be tedious I’d think.

    I don’t even want to think about “employee restrooms” but surely that has to be a consideration when finding a place to park their truck.

    I know, I know, it’s probably all in the city rules and regulations but knowing Swamplot readers, surely one of you has the information at the ready!

  • PYEWACKET2 – Ever been in or near an RV? The trucks can either hook up to the host site’s water source, or they bring their own.

    Yes, the latter is finite, but that’s part of their business model. These aren’t your typical brick and mortar restaurants that operate for 12-24 hour stretches. They basically only operate during peak periods (a couple of hours at lunch, dinner, or maybe late evening if they’re parked at a bar or night club). When they’re out of supplies, they pack it up and go home.
    It ain’t rocket science, guys. :)

  • Thanks for the condescension Seabird.

    Needless reference to RVs.

    I think I stated something about hooking to a faucet (host site’s water source) or bringing their own supply.

    I guess my water requirements may be more than what is considered normal. I wash my hands constantly while I’m cooking. Chopping vegetables, cutting meat, yada yada yada. Cross contamination and all…….

    Everything you stated is just common sense. I’ve got that.

    And don’t tell me they will pack up and leave just because of no water. If there are customers, business will continue as long as they have food supplies. That’s economics.

  • Get a grip trendies and hipsters, these food truck things are nothing but glorified roach coaches. Way overpriced for what you get, too.

  • @markd, “glorified Roach coaches”? Some maybe but certainly not all. I was one of the first to start a gourmet food truck in the Houston area almost three years ago. I have been interviewed by several newspapers in Houston and have done numerous live television cooking from that truck. I am no longer in the business of food trucks because Houston guidlines made it too difficult to make any money. Now to address your “glorified Roach coach” comment. I have a degree in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in France. I have been in kitchens for 24 years and currently work as a Corporate Executive Chef for a very large food purveyor. My work history includes having run 4 and 5 star hotels as Exec Chef, working as Exec Chef for numerous high-end New American cusine restaurants, I have developed many menus in many cities and chances are you have probably eaten at one or more of them. I worked at The Food Network in NYC and was personal chef for George and Barbara Bush and yes I was at the ranch when Cheney shot Harry Whittington while bird hunting (it was Harry’s fault by the way and I have proof!) When I owned the food truck I carried an insurance policy with 2 million dollars of coverage (the same that any restaurant carries) and my kitchen was always spectacularly clean. I, like many other chefs, take a lot of pride in what I serve to you. My food is my craft and what I put on the plate is a direct reflection of me, my integrity and my love for what I do. Unless you have ever worked in a kitchen professionally, please refrain from making blanket statements about the men and women that run some of these fabulous mobile kitchens. You would be surprised about the background of many of them.

  • Jason… your background is precisely why I used the term “glorified” roach coach.

    In college I worked for Auto-Chlor Systems and saw the guts of plenty of kitchens, the parts the bad-ass chefs don’t pay much attention to…

  • I don’t really understand all the hate for food trucks. Think they’re scary? Easy answer – don’t eat there. To be safe, you should also avoid eating anything that wasn’t irradiated, freeze dried, and vacuum sealed. Don’t travel abroad and in the name of all that’s holy, don’t forget to floss.
    Personally, I am wishing the food truck operators good luck at City Hall.

  • @rental me this:

    “I don’t really understand all the hate for food trucks.”

    No, you just don’t understand all the hate on Swamplot.

    Between here, HAIF, and that often-looney Tory Gattis (see: ‘Walled Garden’), you’d think one would get a good sense of why Houston is so hopelessly mediocre.

    Too many cooks in the kitchen. None with a sharp knife, or ambition.

  • Hi – I work at a manufacturer on Little York in Central NW Houston.

    One lady that used to take care of us sold her business and moved.

    We need for breakfast and lunch!

    If you know of anyone dependable, please email me.