Food Truck Parks Face Obstacles in Bringing Booze to the Masses

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Photo courtesy My Food Park HTX
Hale and other local food park owners are still waiting for TABC to make getting alcohol permits easier.
"When I first called TABC to ask about a permit for the park, the people had no idea what a food truck park was," Hale explains.

Indeed, if you search for food trucks or food truck parks on the TABC website, there are no results. Elsewhere in the country, trucks have been serving alcohol for years, and they're not even required to be stopped at a commissary or park. In New York, the first booze-slinging trucks hit the road in 2011, but the permits do require that customers stay in one place if they order an alcoholic beverage. Wandering off with an open beer in hand is not allowed.

Somehow, in Houston, a mobile unit called the Pedal Party was granted an alcohol license. Perhaps it's because the Pedal Party doesn't sell alcohol -- you bring your own, and then drink it while pedaling what's essentially a giant bar up and down Washington Avenue (perhaps you've seen it?). Also, there's a designated driver who works for Pedal Party and doesn't partake during the outing. That's as close as Houston has come to a mobile alcohol vendor.

But back to the park. Many understand the reasoning behind prohibiting food trucks from selling alcohol, as people generally pick up food and get right back in their vehicles. Parks are different, though. People can spend hours enjoying an afternoon of good food and good friends at a food truck park. So long as they aren't driving with a beer in their hands, Hale asks, how is it different from a bar selling alcohol?

And, she wonders, how is her food truck park different from food truck festivals, where dozens of parks convene and sponsors sell beer for upwards of $10 a bottle?

"I understand the port-a-potties-versus-a-real-restroom issue," Hale says. But at festivals, there are rows and rows of port-a-potties and $10 beer. How is that fair?"

For now, Hale encourages people to bring their own alcohol to the park if they want to enjoy a beer with their burgers. She and her husband haven't yet started charging trucks to come serve at the park (as many food parks do), so all of the park's income is from non-alcoholic beverages. The Hales must sell a lot of Cokes and waters to pay the $6,000 a month rent on the property, and they know it would be much easier if they could just sell beer to the many customers who want to sit and enjoy a taco and a cold drink.

Location Info

H-Town StrEATS

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Food Park HTX

800 Highway 6 S, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Koagie Hots

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

St. John's Fire

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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15 comments
sbreakra
sbreakra

what about those places that sell daquiris to go at a tiny drive through...they have no bathroom or place to sit?

goldie1102
goldie1102

Thank you everyone for weighing in with all of your comments!! We really appreciate it


Liz Hale

My Food Park HTX

goldie1102
goldie1102

Thank you everyone for your comments!!  I really appreciate you weighing in!!

scndbox1
scndbox1

EaDo has a beer stand.  Bought a Blue Moon last Saturday. 

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

People who can't enjoy themselves, good company, and/or a good meal without getting drunk are pretty pathetic.

tee-wee
tee-wee

Just an idea... set up your business so you have an actual stream of revenue that is not solely dependent on soft drinks. If you're not charging the trucks, to whom you provide a service, it just doesn't seem that this was very well thought out.

SirRon
SirRon

Oh, wait. I had to click to page 2 to find out I can bring my own? I'm cool then.

tenmen
tenmen

Why dont we have an ALCOHOL DRINKING LICENSE??  You can not buy alcohol without a license, have to go on line or to the DPS and take a test yearly, pay a fee so you can drink. Those convited felons, DUI's, domestic abuse wont get one, at least for a stautory period of time and then have to pay a sizeable bond for your drinking license.

kevin818
kevin818

Call the food park a "picnic" and get a temporary permit.  Worth doing to test the waters, so to speak, to see if enough customers will buy alcohol to make it worthwhile.

goldie1102
goldie1102

@tee-wee we also have open mic night and movie nights, and were also building events out there if you would like to give us a hand please do so, more great minds together make awesome stuff happen :)

WestSideBob
WestSideBob topcommenter

@tenmen that's not only an outstandingly intelligent solution, it would be a HUGE revenue generator for the state of taxes ... err ... Texas.  I guess this shows our politicos have no imagination or initiative to change the status quo.

goldie1102
goldie1102

@kevin818 Thank you for your idea :) we have done a test run and know beer will do great out there :) just gota scrounge up the fundage!!

c3770093
c3770093

Seriously. Do a one-off, specific, limited time event and you should be able to have beer for it (like summer-fest). Test the waters, fund-raise for the install, fund-raise for "Open the Taps" to change the law to make it easier, whatever.

In general, though, I think the title is misleading. It's not food truck parks that are facing obstacles, it's this one. And only the same obstacles that have every other bar faces: running water in the bathrooms and a license. It sounds Ike someone had a great idea and then didn't do any of the basic planning needed to actually get set up (figure out how much those things would cost, get a loan, get investors, all those standard "business plan" things).

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