Deep Ellum Now Has Its Own Food Truck Rally, but Restaurant Owners Aren't All Thrilled

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The Deep Ellum Outdoor Market shut down Main Street over the weekend for a food truck rally. For some, especially the 10 or so trucks there, the night was a success.

Cajun Tailgators ran out of food at 9:30 p.m. The Munch Box had a "sea of people" outside their truck and only stopped serving when Dallas PD told them to scat because they were re-opening Main Street.

But there's a bit of contention between food truck vendors and brick-and-mortar restaurants, captured by the since-deleted Facebook post you see above. Does a food truck rally on Main Street in Deep Ellum help nearby restaurants by bringing more people to the area? Or does it hurt because people are eating at food trucks instead restaurants?

John Jay Myers owns The Free Man Cajun Café and Lounge, one block south of Main on Commerce Street. "It killed our normal business from 7 to 8 that night, but at a certain point I think people started getting frustrated with the trucks and we got slammed from 8 to 10."

Pete Zotos of St. Pete's Dancing Marlin wasn't aware of the event prior to Friday evening and was surprised by a late rush of customers.

"If they would have told us it was going on, we could have properly staffed up." Zotos said. "For about 20 minutes we got a little overwhelmed from customers walking in looking something to eat."

In all, Zotos said, he "didn't dig it so much" and would prefer to see such an event on a Thursday night when things are slower.

Brandon Castillo with the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and one of the key organizers of the event anticipated tension from local restaurants and posted a blog defending the rally last week. He anticipated long lines at food trucks as a benefit to the area's restaurants.

Castillo said they learned a lot of lessons on Friday and have things to smooth out before the next one, which could possibly be in June, but definitely in July when they celebrate the second year anniversary of the DEOM. Being an advocate of Deep Ellum, he hopes to capitalize off the food truck trend and raise awareness of many of the great spots in neighborhood.

Twisted Root Burger Company manager Erica Smith said business was great for them on Friday night. "We were really busy that night. There wasn't a drop in business at all. I think it might have helped."

A clear advantage to restaurants is alcohol sales: Food trucks can't sell alcohol. Still, some restaurant owners are skittish.

"If it only happens once in a while I'm OK with it, but I would not be happy if it was a once a week thing," Myers of The Free Man said.

And according to Castillo, at least for the foreseeable future, only once in a while is the plan.

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