Funky Gourmet Food Trucks in Dallas: Probably Not Going to Happen

Michael Sigel has a food truck but he can't park it downtown.

I spent a few months researching funky food trucks in other cities. Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C., and New York all have a variety of mobile food units that either tweet their locations or rely on a regular schedule.

The most successful food truck operation is Kogi Korean BBQ in Los Angeles. The chef, Roy Choi, operates four trucks and recently opened Alibi Room, a brick and mortar restaurant in west LA. I guess you could say he backed into the restaurant business. (Rim shot.)

More interesting to me is that Choi was chosen as one of the ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine.

Why can’t we find these kinds of stories on our local streets, especially downtown or in the Arts District? After speaking with city officials, restaurateurs, code enforcement officers, and anyone in between, I determined that the future of funky food trucks in Dallas looks grim. Even Michael Sigel, owner of Green House Truck, the first operation to make some headway in Dallas, seems to be using his truck more for catering and special events.

Anywhoo, the whole story about food trucks in Dallas is here. Read it and scream.

Parting note: During the course of researching this story, I tried to reach chef Choi for some perspective. Here is the reply I received (3 weeks after the call followed by an email):

Thanks so much for your interest in Kogi, but unfortunately we are not accepting any press requests at the moment or anytime in the unforeseen future. As it stands, we are on a media sabbatical.  I wish you all the best on your project.

From the guy who used to make tacos on a truck in the bowels of Los Angeles? Gotta love this country.

10 comments on “Funky Gourmet Food Trucks in Dallas: Probably Not Going to Happen

  1. Great write-up, Nancy!

    You know, for being such a conservative, “business-friendly” city (so they say), we certainly have a lot of bureaucracy and red tape that hamstrings innovation.

    As for the trucks stealing customers from other businesses, my first question is WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE? Maybe these trucks will draw more people to the CBD…or better yet, get people out of those horrible tunnels (the real problem with downtown, BTW).

  2. I was just recently in the Abbott Kinney area of Venice Beach where there was an abundance of food trucks. This is an area with numerous fabulous restaurants and bars (Gjelina!). The trucks actually seem to compliment the area and increase customer traffic. I hope that someone does try to make a go of it here… how about around Victory park? On game days or for events? So few places now to eat near aa center-

  3. This is such an interesting idea. Perhaps we are too spread out as a community to make this work. Also, I wonder if people would be likely to eat from a gourmet truck less in the heat?

    I love the idea personally. I just hope it would not be the frightening terrible music that I hear from the local ice cream truck.

    -Renee’
    @FunCityGal

  4. I wanted to try Greenhouse Truck, but gave up on their rarely updated web page (facebook & twitter) trying to find the location.

  5. Over in Fort Worth we are seeing the same restrictions however, we are working full steam ahead on our LA inspired truck called “The Cheesy Food Truck”, serving all kinds of gourmet cheesy sammys and the like. It’s a $40k+ gamble as Michael Segil would probably attest.

    The challenge is Fort Worth’s ordnance about not serving food off the street. You have to get permission (i.e. make a cash deal) with a local business that has a commercial restroom, get it notarized and then park only on their property. It’s tough. One cannot just roll up to a busy sidewalk and serve food.

    Daily Tweets and Facebook posts are the way to go, as stated above. Stay tuned, we’ve been doing our due diligence in FW for a few months, locating good spots in approved zones. Presonally, the more trucks like this the better. DFW will see that we are hiring and creating business in many ways.

  6. It would make me laugh if it wasn’t so sad….This city continues to shoot itself in the foot, all the while claiming to be “forward thinking”. The comments about food trucks taking up parking spaces downtown in front of businesses is golden! What businesses and who actually is shopping there?
    Perhaps it is time to kill some dead wood out of all of the compliance/downtown CBD/planning departments. If Dallas truly wants to be progressive, maybe changing the Dockers and button-down mentality would be a good start! What next health code violations at the armers markets around town? Oh yeah, that’s already happened!