City Council approves food truck request

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The food trucks are coming — at least a few of them.

The Austin City Council unanimously voted Monday to allow a few food trucks to park in the public parking lots by Brick Furniture and the Austin Municipal Pool, and it also added the former library lot at the corner of First Street and Second Avenue Northwest.

“I like the additional third spot,” Council member Judy Enright said.

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The vote came after Mario Chavez and his daughter, Sara, approached the city to see if they’d be permitted to open a food truck. Food truck or wagon owners can also house them on private property with no issue.

The council unanimously approved allowing the trucks in the Brick and pool lots at a work session last month, but it added the library lot, which Enright said is a good thing to give business people opportunities as there have been fewer bars and restaurants downtown in recent years.

She was also pleased the city will be flexible with this issue, as it can revisit it later and adjust the motion if needed.

Food trucks have garnered much interest in cities like Rochester after new ordinances passed, but City Clerk Ann Kasel cautioned this isn’t a new ordinance, it’s more an adjustment to test the waters.

“We’re kind thinking we’d allow it in certain municipal lots to see how it goes and to see if this is something that more trucks are interested in before we over regulate it,” Kasel said at last month’s work session.

From past experience, Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace said the city’s learned that issues can arise when the food trucks are near existing businesses, so they picked areas — the Austin Municipal Pool lot and the lot just north of Brick Furniture — that are a little away from businesses.

Kasel noted statutes limit the amount of days food trucks can stay in one spot, but Sarah said they’d like to move to a few different spots — potentially some on private property — to be in compliance with the state.

As for their food truck, Sara and Mario plan to serve Mexican food — burritos, tacos and tortas with pork, beef and chicken and fresh ingredients. They’d likely charge about $5 for a burrito or $5 for three tacos.

“We would provide good quality food at an affordable price,” Sara told the council last month. “We want people to have an authentic Mexican meal that won’t break the budget.”

Sarah told the council they were thinking about being open for lunch and early dinner.

The Chavez family owned a restaurant business in Mexico for about 20 years before moving to the U.S.

Cladio Gormaz, Sara’s uncle and Mario’s brother-in-law, said the family isn’t sure yet when they’ll open their truck in Austin, as council approval was their first step.