Yesterday I spoke with two DFW-area food trucks about their plans to hit the streets in Big D. Gennarino's is a Neapolitan-style friggitoria owned by three brothers from Naples, Italy. And SoCal Tacos serves up classic southern Cali tacos, burritos and salsa. Both these truck owners are enthusiastic foodies, anxiously awaiting a chance to bring their tasty goods to the city of Dallas
Don't cancel any lunch plans yet, though. As things stand, neither of these trucks expect to pass the City of Dallas food truck permit process.
Scott Wooley of SoCal Tacos put it best: "I get the logic of what they're doing. They're trying to keep people from selling food out of the back of a 1978 Econoline van."
Wooley went on to explain that the main issue is that Dallas requires all vehicles be "originally manufactured" as a food truck. In other words, you can't convert an old UPS truck or trailer (aka Trailercakes) to a mobile food unit.
Industrious food truck owners, however, have professional kitchens installed in box-style trucks. So, while not a certified originally manufactured food truck, these refurbished units, which cost upwards of $75,000, have all the necessary details that allow them to make and serve food safely: dual wash bins, 10-gallon hot water tanks, cold and hot food storage capabilities, and the rest.
"It's all professionally done," explained Wooley. "A professional kitchen and even the electrical wiring is done by a professional electrician. But, Dallas has a blanket policy that applies to everyone."
I recently exchanged emails with Dallas City Council Member Ann Margolin about the permitting issue. I specifically asked her if there was a possibility to review these prohibitive rules.
"Is there an ear for change?" asked Margolin. "I am definitely open to making it easier. I am open to tweaking or rewriting if our code discourages new trucks. I really think the council wants to see more."
Wooley just received his Fort Worth permit on Tuesday. On Thursday, with a bit of reluctance, he's driving his SoCal Tacos truck to Dallas for inspection.
"But, they're not going to allow my truck to pass because I have an outside generator," he said.
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The Gennarino's guys are getting their truck inspected this week in Irving, not even bothering with Dallas because they know they can't overcome the original manufacturing rule.
The sum affect is that there are more food trucks in neighboring cities than in Dallas.
"Eventually they are going to have to look at each individual truck," Wooley said.
Seems the issue isn't to lower the bar, but tweak the code verbiage. If a truck has a professionally installed kitchen that offers all the same food-safety standards as other manufactured food trucks, why not at least have a look?