City to evaluate park for a year, consider permanent zoning
Following a campaign spearheaded by a local business owner, Round Rock is set to open the city’s first-ever food trailer park.
Shawn Faulk, owner of Star Co. Coffeehouse & Cafe in Round Rock and a food truck on South Congress Avenue in Austin, planned to open the Round Rock Food Trailer Park on Oct. 1 with 12 vendors, offering selections ranging from Guatemalan fare to cupcakes.
Faulk said the effort to bring a food trailer park to the city began as an attempt to relocate his own truck from Austin to Round Rock.
“We noticed that whole area in Austin was getting really saturated with food parks,” Faulk said. “I thought it would be a good time to bring the trend up north.”
But unlike Austin, Round Rock lacked the zoning to allow a mobile food vendor to set up a permanent location, let alone a developed food park.
“We started working with the city, trying to get them to understand how they could adapt to better help mobile vendors,” Faulk said.
His campaign included speaking at City Council meetings and bolstering interest with fliers.
Temporary development agreement
On Sept. 13, Round Rock City Council unanimously approved a development agreement between the city and Starcorp Inc., the parent company of Star Co. Coffeehouse & Cafe and Faulk’s food trailer. The development agreement effectively lifted the ban on permanent mobile food vendors within the city—but only allows for the Round Rock Food Trailer Park.
Peter Wysocki, Round Rock Planning and Services director, said the development agreement is only valid for one year. Wysocki said during the next year, the city will evaluate the park in several ways, including its impact on parking and traffic, and then make a decision on whether to make the change permanent.
“We want to see if it’s successful here in Round Rock and [identify] some of the issues that come to light,” Wysocki said.
Parking and traffic are the top issues city officials want to evaluate.
“Because it is on Mays Street, we wanted to make sure there are at least two parking spaces per trailer,” Wysocki said.
Wysocki said the city considered requiring Faulk and Starcorp to make permanent improvements to the site, such as paved parking spaces, but decided to wait to determine if such changes were necessary based on parking demands.
Wysocki said if the park is successful and continues to grow, the city may also want to look at adding permanent restrooms to the park.
Wysocki said the city will monitor the park during the 12-month period, ensuring that Starcorp and vendors are complying with terms of the development agreement. He said there were still many questions about how to allow for food truck parks in multiple locations throughout the city.
“If we address it by zoning, and it’s allowed on commercial properties, specifically where would it be?” Wysocki said. “Would it be in parking lots? Would it have to be vacant land? There’s a lot more to it than just allowing it.”
Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw said the council’s unanimous approval was a response to resident demand and a desire to be more welcoming to new businesses.
“There is an excitement about that type of food service,” McGraw said. “When you start seeing some of the regulation that you have to deal with to open a business, it really is an eye opener. You’ve got to be willing to adjust to the times.”
McGraw said one of the biggest benefits to the city was the draw to downtown the park could generate.
“[The park] is not costing the city anything to [establish],” McGraw said. “We’re trying to get more people downtown, so to me this is a good, inexpensive way.”
Vendors flock to join
The Round Rock Food Trailer Park is located at 500 N. Mays St. on private land owned by North Mays LTD. Starcorp leases the land from North Mays and sublets spots to mobile food truck operators for $950 per month. To date, 12 vendors have signed on, and the food trailer park is fully booked.
James Beard, owner of Beef Cake Shop food truck, relocated his food truck from Travis County to the new park. Beard, a 14-year resident of Round Rock, said he had run his truck out of north Austin because operating within Round Rock wasn’t an option.
The population boom in Round Rock is putting pressure on officials to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse community, Beard said.
“There is new blood in Round Rock city government. Some are beginning to open their eyes to the possibilities,” Beard said. “There’s a lot of new ideas and opinions. We’re beginning to have council members and mayors … who reach out and listen to the ideas of a ... community.”
The official opening of the park was Oct. 1, with a grand opening event scheduled for the Oct. 6–7 weekend.
“We’re looking forward to being here,” Faulk said. “We know we offer something unique that Round Rock has never had before.”