Food truck parks are popping up around Houston! Finally, people all over the city can start enjoying our great mobile kitchens as much as the lucky folks inside the Loop do.
Our first food truck park, Houston Food Park, opened in EaDo in June, and the place is so popular that it already has more than twice as many Facebook fans as Eating...Our Words (not that we're bitter or anything).
In its wake, two new food truck parks are set to open soon: My Food Park HTX, which will have a soft opening on October 14, and Mangum Food Park, which is scheduled to open on October 19. The former is located west of Beltway 8 in the Energy Corridor, while the latter will be on Mangum Road by the intersection of 610 and 290.
You know what this means...fusion tacos for everybody!
We caught up with the folks in charge of the new parks to find out more about their plans.
"I'm sitting in a lawn chair under a tree on the property right now," said Liz Hale, mastermind behind My Food Park HTX when we reached her by phone. "I'm sitting here and my husband is mowing the entire three acres with a push mower!"
Don't assume Hale hasn't been laboring hard, too, though. My Food Park HTX has been in the works for months. Hale lives in the Energy Corridor, and as both a food truck owner (Zeapod Cakery) and a food truck lover, she often lamented how difficult it was for people living or working there or in Katy to make it to Montrose or downtown, where the trucks tend to hang out. Then her husband happened across the property at 800 Highway 6 South, and she knew it was meant to be.
Hale says the park is currently about 99 percent ready to begin operations. Though the grand opening is scheduled for November 2, popular demand has led Hale to schedule a soft opening for Monday, October 14.
She says she hopes to have two to five trucks at the park daily, but anticipates that Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be busier. The park will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the soft opening, and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the grand opening and most days thereafter.
Parking is available on-site (but absolutely NOT next door), and, in keeping with the park feel, there are picnic tables and big wooden spools that will serve as tables scattered around the area. For now, the park is BYOB, but there are two stand-up bars that will eventually sell alcohol once the park is granted a liquor license. When that happens, Hale says, her husband has his heart set on opening a small tiki bar. The duo is also hoping to find some musicians to come out and play at both the soft opening and the grand opening.
At Monday's soft opening, the park will welcome five savory trucks, including Bernie's Burger Bus, Churrasco To Go and Yummy'z Kitchen, and at least one dessert truck, namely, Hale's own Zeapod Cakery.
And what's better than eating at a food park? Eating at a food park for a good cause! Monday's soft opening will be held in conjunction with the Houston Zombie Walk benefitting the Houston SPCA. Eating with the undead for homeless animals. Heck. Yes.
Check out the next page for info on Mangum Food Park!
Mangum Food Park co-owner Brent Fisk recently returned to Houston from a six-month stint in Austin, and what he missed most when he came back was a food park.
"That's what I had for lunch every day at a park off East 6th Street," Fisk says. "There was a nice variety, and it was great to be able to choose what you want from different trucks."
The idea to open a food truck really began to take shape when he saw a piece of property on Mangum Road that had been in his girlfriend's family since the early 1900s. Fisk says it was originally a dairy farm, and then a house was built there, but after the house was torn down the family didn't know what to do with the space. And a food truck park was born.
"The last couple of months or so, we've really been working on it," Fisk says. "A lot of it was overgrown, so a lot of trees and bushes had to be cut down. Now we're trying to make it nice and give it a park feel with natural shade. We got a lot of our inspiration from the ones in Austin with shade, wood chips on the ground and picnic tables for people to stay and eat."
Fisk notes that though the park isn't quite inside the Loop or in a major business area such as downtown or the Energy Corridor, the Oak Forest neighborhood has been very supportive, and there are many local businesses nearby. One of those businesses is Karbach Brewing, which Fisk hopes to partner with eventually. For now, the park is BYOB.
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Mangum will welcome no more than four to six trucks at a time (Fisk is a stickler for city ordinances, which say that trucks have to be at least 60 feet apart because of the dangerous nature of propane tanks). There will be five trucks at the grand opening, which is scheduled for October 19, including Angie's Cake, Pho-jita Fusion, The Hungry Lumberjack, Cupcake and a Smile and POCKet to Me. The inaugural service will last from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but Fisk hopes to stay open later once he's able to get lights installed on the property.
Fisk and his girlfriend, Paige Hughes, will co-run and operate the park, and they're already brainstorming about how to host special events, such as sporting-event screenings and flea markets, at the park. But first, they've got to make the space itself as welcoming as possible.
"We want to put the money that we raise from the park back into the park," Fisk says. "Let's build it and make it better and better for the public to enjoy."
Recap: Check out the My Food Park HTX soft opening on October 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or the grand opening on November 2 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Then swing by Mangum Food Park for its grand opening on October 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.