Food Trucks

Oh My Gogi's Continuing HPD Problems

Houston police spokesperson John Cannon has trouble not laughing when he hears about the food truck Oh My Gogi. It's not their complaints, or their food, or the owners. It's the name. Oh. My. Gogi. The punch lines pretty much write themselves.

Oh My Gogi isn't laughing.

Owner Eric Nguyen says the Houston Police Department has unfairly targeted his food truck over the last month, coming after them with a new flurry of citations every week. In the last month, the food truck, which sells Korean barbecue and tacos near Rice Village on the weekends, has been inspected four different times by police and hit with at least four different violations.

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It started a month ago, manager Daniel Davenport said. He parked the Oh My Gogi truck near Brian O'Neill's and started selling tacos. But then the cops showed up, and wrote him a citation because he didn't have a food preparation permit on him, though he showed it to them on his iPad. Not good enough, they said, writing him a citation.

Davenport didn't think much of it, but then things got weird. The cops showed up again the next week. They were different officers, Davenport said, and they declined to say why they'd come again. "They said, 'We were told by our sergeant to come and crack down on you all," Davenport said.

Cannon said the HPD has in no way targeted Oh My Gogi. Earlier this year, area residents and restaurant owners began complaining about all the food trucks, he said. So police have launched an inspection sweep of the area. In the last month, he said, police have written at least 50 citations. Cannon said the campaign will continue for at least one more month.

Oh My Gogi's Davenport takes us inside the police offensive. He said the second time they came to Oh My Gogi, police found his propane tank on the outside of the truck and shut him down. He had to throw away $800 worth of food. Then police made him pour bleach all over it.

The next week was the worst, he recalled.

Again, it was different officers -- this time two officers named J. Sanchez and A. Huff -- who came to his food truck. Davenport said a "sergeant" had sent them, and they had to find something to cite. Police wrote three infractions for displaying their business permits, which were on hand but not in open sight.

Nguyen couldn't believe it. "We're totally legit," he said. "But they're always going to find something. Our truck is the only one being picked on. It's weird. And it scares me. There are just so many rules that we don't know about and they could keep writing citations forever."

Other food truck owners, a conspiratorial lot, perceive politics behind the police actions. Tom Morris, who owns Coreanos, said it may be related to all the recent brouhaha over whether the city will deregulate food trucks, which would allow them more freedom to enter downtown and provide seating for customers. "But my opinion is, bring it on," said Morris.

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Terrence McCoy
Contact: Terrence McCoy