While visiting San Antonio this past spring, several food trucks were lined up around portions of the main government square in the city’s central business district waiting for hungry diners to come bounding out of their office chutes at noon. This allowed one-stop dining, so to speak, for those interested in eating from one of the vendors. For a dense location like a downtown, this format works well, as a central square is generally accessible from throughout the heart of the city by foot, bike or transit during a lunch hour.
In terms of suburbia, food trucks (or trailers) tend to stake their claim wherever they can get permission from the landowner – sometimes to the dismay of neighbors and the community. So, instead of trying to lasso a bunch of roaming food trucks, how about taking the bull by the horns and finding a specific place for them all to assemble? A festive, one-stop food truck rodeo, with all the vendors easily accessible in a single place. Economies of agglomeration works for farmers markets, craft markets, fast food, retailers, and artisan markets; why not for food trucks and trailers?
Finding the suitable and most appropriate location to corral untamed food trucks into a rodeo may be the toughest challenge of all. Options could include community-owned parks and properties where each vendor pays a nominal fee; an on-street location, but only if on-street parking is permitted; an empty parcel with the owner’s permission; or a largely vacant shopping complex – loads of leftover parking to steer the grazing customer’s vehicles. The location chosen should have as many of the following attributes as possible:
- Pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access
- Parking for those who must drive
- Centralized location
- Proximity to significant employment and/or retail centers – to create the foot traffic necessary for the rodeo to succeed.
- Amenities such as seating, shade, and entertainment
- A regular and regulated schedule
It can be like the Wild West out there sometimes for planners, but with some forethought and implementation, unbridled food trucks can been tamed to meet your community standards, while also serving up great grub for hungry cowpokes and sodbusters, alike. Yee-haw!