If you want to run a food truck in Dallas, you've got to rent space at a commissary, place for food storage, ice, water, waste water and waste disposal and a place to park your rig when you're not tossing Cubanos out the window. Rent can run around $1,000 or more a month. And having access to all this at an existing restaurant won't cut it: It has to be a separate, commercial kitchen.
The same requirement was levied upon food truck operators in Plano until Monday. That's when city council voted unanimously, and wisely, to allow existing restaurant spaces to serve as commissaries, provided basic parking and other sanitation requirements were met in the process.
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Ann Keady takes credit for pushing the legislation through. She and her husband Jason Key are living the ultimate food truck dream after their Cajun Tailgators truck expanded into a bricks and mortar location in downtown Plano. The two businesses now run in tandem, supplying the area with plenty of po'boys, gumbo and étouffée.
The food may have helped their cause. The Cajun Café happens to be located steps from City Hall, and according to Keady "they're our biggest customers." Keady says it took about three months start to finish to get the city to rewrite the code, and now their restaurant can serve as their commissary, saving them significant storage and waste disposal fees every month.
Dallas should follow suit. While Keady is right that most restaurants, especially ones in strip malls, won't meet the parking requirement, the law change will provide incentive for existing food trucks to open up traditional restaurants that do meet the requirements. And it could also incentivize existing restaurateurs to hit the road with new food trucks, by eliminating the commissary fees from their operating costs. Imagine a fish and chips truck from Marc Cassel's 20 Feet, or a sweets truck from Dunia Borgra of La Duni. Dallas' streets could get very exciting very fast. All we have to do is be cool. Like Plano.
Cajun Tailgators, 1112 E. 15th St., Plano, 469-304-0313, cajuntailgators.com