Food & Drink
SA’s Food Truck Parks Can Be Havens or Headaches (or Both)
Published: October 16, 2013
This also allowed for trucks to stay parked overnight, forgo daily commissary visits and do away with extra storage for liquid waste. The mobile food court license (COSA’s term, not ours) also overrides the 300-foot rule trucks had to abide by. Currently, two licensed mobile food courts exist, the Alamo Street Eat Bar and The Block, according to Steve Barscewski, sanitarian services manager at Metro Health.
“Half the time, park plans don’t come to fruition. We’ve looked at up to 15 parks at one point and of the original group, there are about six or seven,” Barscewski said.
Penciling It In
For Jon Onstead, the idea for the The Block first came to him in 2011 while on the road to Austin. The 2009 University of Texas at San Antonio alum (with a concentration in real estate and finance) was a practicing realtor when he started looking into opening a park. He remembers the date the amendments passed clearly.
“It was like my birthday, May 27, 2012,” he said.
Onstead wouldn’t start construction on The Block before the amendments to both the UDC and the health code were in place, claiming it would have been too risky for him and the trucks.
Since its grand opening in September, The Block (14530 Roadrunner Way) has been busy catering to hordes of hungry roadrunners and surrounding residents in UTSA’s northern neighborhood. The park is one of the most curated yet: Trucks sit next to a plush green lawn that’s coupled with an expansive xeriscaped area for tables and a new bar building.
Again, stability and visibility comes at a price. Leasing a space at the Block costs $1,500 per month, but Onstead’s given the trucks an option to sublease their rental if the opportunity to cater an event were to arise.
Onstead also consulted with Newman on how to run the park as far as menu variety, something Alamo Street Eat Bar also employs to avoid competing truck offerings. Menu exclusivity is often considered when renting out a spot at Alamo Street Eat Bar. For $850 per month there, trucks have access to trash cans and dumpster services, electricity, seating, gray water disposal, grease traps, a three-bowl cleaning station (which equals an annual commissary membership valued at around $200), advertising and social media promotion.
When it comes to scheduling trucks, Denise Aguirre of The Point Park & Eats (24188 Boerne Stage), gives the vendors a deadline of every 19th of the month to send in preferred dates. From there, Aguirre spends two days manipulating the schedule so trucks won’t compete directly with one another. Rent at the park varies from $25-$65 per day with an additional overnight parking fee; music acts, clean up and social media promotion are included in the price.
Although The Point is technically certified as a bar through Bexar County (no mobile food court licenses were available when The Point opened in early 2012), Aguirre and partner Noel Cisneros have outfitted the park with electricity for the trucks, plentiful shade and a playground.
> Email Jessica Elizarraras