Dallas Appears Closer to Loosening Restrictions on Food Trucks

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The Sigel's Winter Food Truck Festival grew out of its pants before it even got them on. The store's first festival was on a brilliant August day and drew over 2,000 people, all of whom risked melting into the pavement just for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. Given the anticipated crowd size for the upcoming November 12 event, the city told Sigel's they had to up its game to four times the number of port-o-potties, twice as many Dallas police officers and an ambulance on site. To which Sigel's said, "Umm, nevermind."

It's not the only way Dallas has clamped down on food trucks -- although the city appears ready to loosen some of its restrictions.

The City of Dallas hasn't necessarily thrown down the welcome mat for the growing food truck industry. Permitting requirements here are more complicated than in surrounding cities, and as a result many trucks stay out of Dallas. One restrictive measure is the requirement that trucks be originally manufactured to be a food truck. The city doesn't allow for professional kitchen installations in, say, an old UPS truck. Which is the case for Gennarino's, which serves Neapolitan street food.

Councilwoman Angela Hunt has started to take notice. Last month the Quality of Life Committee, which Hunt chairs, looked at two ways to ease the restrictive city codes. One was to allow "retrofitted hot trucks," which would remove the commercially manufactured provision but still require trucks to be held to the same safety standards.

The other change would allow food trucks to carry raw seafood and poultry. As it stands, due to cross-contamination fears, trucks have to freeze all seafood and poultry then deep fry when ordered.

The two provisions made it out of committee back on October 24th and were on the agenda for the Monday morning City Council meeting. But Hunt pulled the measures off the agenda prior to the meeting.

"Some food truck vendors felt the draft ordinance needed to provide greater latitude for the type of trucks used (as other cities do)," explained Hunt in an email. "As long as we're meeting the same health and safety standards, there's no reason to be locked in to a specific truck type.

"Engaging with the operators and potential vendors is an important part of this process, and we don't want to pass an ordinance that doesn't work. So we're going to have a meeting with some of these vendors, revise the ordinance, and get this to the council as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of the year."

Either way, it wouldn't help the Sigel's food truck festival, but that's a completely separate committee meeting. For now let's hope it gets sorted sooner than later should Dallas miss out on more of the great food our neighbor cities are privy to.

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