Food Truck Parks Face Obstacles in Bringing Booze to the Masses
You know what would go perfect with that Shorty Mac from H-Town StrEATS? Or with that Kimchi Koagie from Koagie Hots or something spicy and Cajun from St. John's Fire?
Photo courtesy My Food Park HTX You can bring your own booze to the park, but vendors can't sell it.
Beer. Beer would go great with food truck fare. I imagine cocktails probably would, too. And I know I want wine with my cupcakes and cookies from our sweet trucks in town.
Of course the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission prohibits roving food trucks to sell any sort of alcohol, because they don't meet the requirements to do so.
According to TABC permitting laws, in order to sell any sort of alcohol -- beer, wine or liquor -- a business must have a Retail Dealer's License. This license authorizes businesses "to sell beer for consumption on or off premises in a lawful container to the ultimate consumer but not for resale. Requires adequate seating area for customers."
So individual food trucks, being mobile and whatnot, can't provide seating for clients, and therefore can't sell booze. But what about food truck parks, which don't go anywhere and generally have ample seating and parking?
That gets a little more tricky. Just ask Liz Hale of My Food Park HTX.
The food park, which opened in early November, has been promising to have an on-site bar since Hale and her husband, Jerry, first came up with the idea to open a park in a three-acre piece of land out on Highway 6 near I-10. There are a few things standing in the way of that goal, though.
Photo courtesy My Food Park HTX Don't expect much more than soda at Houston food truck parks.
"Six thousand dollars," Hale exclaimed, clearly eager to talk about the lack of alcohol at her park thus far. "You have to pay TABC $6,000 for the first year in order to get a license, and then it's around $2,000 every year after that."
You also have to have two working restrooms, it turns out -- one for men and one for women. These restrooms must be hooked up to actual, functioning plumbing. No porta-potties allowed.
"We have a few port-a-potties that we keep very clean," Hale says, "and we have one real toilet, but it's hooked up to a well in the back, and we don't want it running all the time."
The expense of putting in another toilet and hooking it up to the city's water supply coupled with the fees associated with permitting is prohibitive for a small food truck park like My Food Park HTX. Of course, the profits from selling alcohol on-site could easily raise enough money, but that's a bit of a catch-22.