Fort Worth on a food truck binge

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Thursday, May 10 at 6:30 PM

FORT WORTH -- In less than six months, Fort Worth's food truck park industry will triple in size. 

Two more lots are set to join the Fort Worth Food Park as havens for the wandering gourmet trucks that serve up more than burgers and burritos.

The trucks are not the old construction site food trucks. The mobile restaurants are gourmet, and Fort Worth said they are a fast growing trend that is not going away.

The consumer health superintendent says there are now 164 hot food trucks licensed to operate in the city.  That's a 14% increase from May 2011, and there are new trucks permitted every week.

City code makes it difficult for trucks to build a loyal clientele. They are only allowed to park in one spot for two hours, unless they have running water and written permission for customers to use nearby bathrooms.

Food parks provide the water and the restrooms.

Russ Davis cooks up Parmesan-crusted chicken in his Drifting Bistro truck. He said he caught the wave of food truck trends in January and jumped in because the licenses, rent and fees were still cheaper than opening a new restaurant.

His drifting Bistro found a crowd of customers at the Fort Worth Food Park where hundreds of hungry mouths sample tacos, burgers made to order or gourmet cupcakes.

A year ago, park owner Chris Kruger met some resistance for his new idea. He had to get zoning approved for his park and prove to councilors it was a viable, clean, healthy alternative to traditional restaurants.

"He did a lot of work with the city council initially to try to get this thing pushed through, and I think everybody is really glad he has," said Jeremy Freeman, Fort Worth Food Park manager.

Now competition is on the way. 

Charlie Flores converted his used car lot into Cowtown Chow Down on North Main.  It opens May 17, and Mayor Betsy Price will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony.

When electric wiring is complete, he will charge $75 to $150 per day for each of his 19 stalls.

"All these food trucks need to have a place to park where people can visit them on a regular basis," Flores said.

7th Haven went out of business as a bar because of parking issues on West 7th.  The owner there is also considering parking trucks under its roof top bar.

"As soon as those other parks are open, I am there," Davis said. 

He anticipates competition between the new parks could be good for trucks.  More areas will bring in new customers.

And Davis is always looking for a faithful following of foodies who know these trucks aren't just the flavor of the week.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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