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Karina Ramirez - DRC file photo

Rolling into a new home

Profile image for By William Darnell / The Dallas Morning News
By William Darnell / The Dallas Morning News
Rachel Black sprinkles powdered sugar on a peanut butter, bacon and banana waffle going out to a customer from The Waffle Wagon, parked in front of East Side Social Club on Jan. 16 in Denton.David Minton - DRC file photo
Rachel Black sprinkles powdered sugar on a peanut butter, bacon and banana waffle going out to a customer from The Waffle Wagon, parked in front of East Side Social Club on Jan. 16 in Denton.
David Minton - DRC file photo

Long-awaited food truck park expected to open soon in Denton

The burgeoning numbers of food trucks in Denton are about to have a permanent home.

The long-awaited Austin Street Truck Stop is expected to open later this month in Denton, the city’s first site offering monthly rentals for multiple food trucks to congregate as they do in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston and Dallas.

The food truck park, named for its location, will be directly adjacent to East Side Social Club and just a few hundred yards from Oak Street Draft House and Cocktail Parlor.

John Williams, who owns Oak Street Draft House and co-owns East Side, said he noticed a need for the service and happened to know the perfect place to house the park.

“Nobody’s done a park yet, a place where they can congregate,” Williams said. “I’ve seen the success in Austin, the success in Fort Worth. I think being one block off the Square and next to East Side will benefit those guys.”

During the week, one to two trucks will be in the lot during lunchtime, with two to three featured during the evenings. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, however, as many as six trucks may occupy spaces at the same time.

Seven food trucks are expected to be involved initially at the park: The Waffle Wagon, Shiitake Swerve, Flatlanders Tacos, The Pickled Carrot, Lean Machine and Dough Boys Pizza, with the seventh not yet confirmed.

The lot, which Williams is leasing, is being outfitted with electrical poles to eliminate noise pollution and the need for generators.

Williams said he is looking to break even on the investment, hoping that it will drive business up in the area. The food truck operators will pay a flat monthly rate between $350 and $400 per month to start.

“It will create a buzz for people from the surrounding areas like Lewisville and Carrollton, Keller, Fort Worth and Dallas,” Williams said. “Once they come to Denton they will realize how cool and awesome it is and they will come back to eat and drink in local shops.”

The idea of food truck parks would have been unheard of in Denton even a year ago, as city regulations banned their operation until the city council passed an ordinance.

“We’ve come a long, long way,” City Councilman Kevin Roden said. “I think what they are able to do is bring life to areas that don’t have it. They provide a service that often-times restaurants aren’t providing. There are not a lot of late-night eateries in the downtown area.”

Roden said the creation of a space where food trucks can congregate without occupying parking spots or other less-than-convenient-areas is a huge benefit to the food trucks and consumers.

“You want to be able to not have to chase trucks all around town,” Roden said. “All the trucks benefit from that sort of scenario.”

Before the ordinance, which has been tweaked several times, food trucks couldn’t operate in Denton because they weren’t allowed to park for more than an hour. Now, 24 food trucks are permitted to operate in the city, Roden said.

Rachel Black, who owns The Waffle Wagon, said she wants to stay in Denton all the time, so she is excited about the possibilities offered at the new park.

“I think it gives my truck the opportunity to have definite places to go,” Black said. “Right now it’s kind of like daily searching out places to go and park the truck wherever we have the permission and they have the facilities we need.”

Black expressed concerns about the possibility of over-saturating the market for food trucks but said she is committed to Denton and will stick it out regardless.

Black said she wants to be a community landmark, and because a lot of her customers are families, the opening of a park will help make that happen.

“I think that’ll draw a good family crowd because a lot of families are e-mailing me and calling me and asking what are going to be our daytime hours,” Black said. “They can go there with their families and enjoy a nice evening without being in a bar.”

Tyler Hall, who co-owns Flatlanders Taco Company and is from Grapevine, said the park will help outsiders get a foothold in the community.

“The main thing is that we are very confident in the food that we produce, and we pretty much think it’s going to bring competition in,” Hall said. “It’s going to open up a lot for a lot of other trucks.”

Roden echoed the sentiment.

“A lot of great cities have this sort of culture,” Roden said. “It’s a great opportunity for younger, less- well-off entrepreneurs who want to start a business. You can start a lot easier with a food truck than a restaurant.”