Food truck court moves forward
A food truck court with a shared kitchen has cleared the first hurdle in the city’s approval process.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved The CoKitchen’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a commissary kitchen and food truck court at 801 Chestnut St., across from Treff’s Tavern at a property previously used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Liz McGhee, co-owner of The CoKitchen, spoke to the commission Tuesday night about the purpose of the business and plans for the site. The building on the site will serve as a commissary kitchen for seven food trucks parked in the lot around the building. The business is an incubator to help food truck owners get up and running, she said. The kitchen would also serve as an incubator for bakers and pastry chefs. The commissary kitchen, she said, would be considered a fixed food establishment.
McGhee emphasized a desire to showcase the part of the property near Sessom Creek and to protect the creek from any trash or other waste.
“We are very aware of the responsibilities … that come with our choice,” she said.
Dianne Wassenich of the San Marcos River Foundation said she was pleased to see that the business owners want to showcase the creek.
“It is a beautiful spot,” she said.
She was also heartened by the inclusion of a mesh fence in the plan to keep trash out of Sessom Creek.
“Of course we need to make sure that anyone that has a business there … follows all the rules about industrial pretreatment, grease traps … if any grease is going to spill from those trailers it needs to be trapped in some kind of a filter before it goes in the creek because it will be, in minutes, in the river,” she said.
McGhee noted that the grease trap will be in a location that would send any leaks toward the street and away from Sessom Creek.
Resident Paul Murray said he had concerns about traffic going in and out of the proposed food truck court location — specifically large trucks making deliveries.
“My first question is where is the Sysco truck going to park?” he said. “All the people delivering their raw material — where are they going to park on a two-lane street? Because that’s all that Chestnut is.”
“We’re not actually looking to run a large commercial kitchen,” McGhee said. “... Big deliveries for food trucks are usually not a huge thing.”
McGhee said that if Sysco or Labatt deliver supplies to The CoKitchen, there are smaller truck options.
“We don’t want them parking on the street,” she said. “... The large 18-wheel Labatt or Sysco trucks will not be an issue. We will not be utilizing them.”
P&Z Chair Jim Garber proposed an amendment to have a 6-foot fence; the initial plan was to have a 42-inch fence with a wire mesh panel around part of the property to keep trash from blowing away.
“That little trench along there seems to be a trash magnet,” he said. “It’s a weird wind pattern.”
Garber’s amendment for a taller fence that reaches all the way to the ground passed, as did an amendment requiring animal-proof trashcans.
“I know there are a lot of critters in that creek,” he said, “so I’d like to see us have trashcans that have lids.”
Another amendment to the permit application specified that the kitchen will serve those seven food trucks, not any other food trucks in the city.
“This is the best way to do it,” commissioner Travis Kelsey said of the food truck court, “because you don’t have seven trucks bringing in their own stuff.”
One issue with the local code is that food trucks staying in one location for more than four hours have to have a restroom available for customers or an agreement with a nearby business to provide a restroom, according to Jeff Caldwell, who oversees food establishments in the city.
McGhee said the business plan already included outdoor portable restrooms that could be put in sooner rather than later.
“We are happy to put in the restrooms we were going to put in eventually anyway,” she said. “They will be portable, but they will likely be the larger trailer type of restroom. … We didn’t realize that was the San Marcos code.”
The permit for the food truck also included a stipulation that no amplified speakers would be used after 10 p.m.