The success of Denton’s recent food truck festival, Friday Nite Bites, caught our attention as a possible way Denton could build on its eclectic reputation.
Food trucks, carts, trailers and even wagons are so popular in Austin that they have a standing website that lists where each is located, when it will be there and what it will have on the menu. The vendors have become part of the cultural fabric of downtown Austin and around the University of Texas.
That’s exactly what we hope to see in Denton. Food trucks offer a quick, easy way to pick up a snack or a meal to go that we do not think competes with our traditional restaurants. Brick and mortar restaurants offer far more than food to go — they offer a destination, an experience very different than what is offered by food trucks.
And, more often than not, the food offered on the wheel, so to speak, is unique and not the usual fare — such as banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches served by The Pickled Carrot, or Shiitake Swerve, which serves soul food.
The city’s first food truck event debuted in the parking lot of the Downtown Denton Transit Center at the corner of Railroad and Hickory streets. While convenient to downtown, it may not have been the most convenient locale for the Denton County Transportation Authority, which needs the parking area for commuters.
But perhaps we could borrow an idea or two from other places both near and far. In Manhattan, according to DCTA President Jim Cline, side streets are temporarily shut down on a regular basis for the food trucks to serve meals. In Dallas, food truck parks are popping up across the city on private property, including one on the south end of a mall parking lot.
We’re not advocating for one or the other, but we’d like to put the thought out there for either private or public implementation or consumption (and, yes, we meant the pun.)
If we’re to be progressive in the city of Denton to reach our goal of becoming a mini-Austin, then we should seriously consider establishing a way to offer food truck services in an easily accessible location to serve the 50,000-plus students in our city as well as the many residents who enjoy something a little different.
It will help us continue to build on our reputation as a destination place for food, music and the arts — not to mention keep more diners and their dollars in Denton.