Food trucks roll into Georgetown

Casey's Food Court expected to open in May after several delays

The food truck trend has slowly been rolling its way through Williamson County and is stopping to park in Georgetown for the first time.

Casey's Food Court, located at 903 N. Church St., is expected to open in May despite delays from weather and the permitting process, and as of press time May 3, developers were awaiting final approval from the city for a temporary parking agreement, said August Higgins, marketing director for J. Paul Aubin Real Estate.

"We're right there at the finish line," Higgins said. "It's been a whole series of things, but none of them are deal-breakers or will have any permanent damage as far as not opening at all. It's just a matter of getting everything coordinated."

Trailer park food

Joseph Aubin, owner of J. Paul Aubin Real Estate, is developing the site, which could eventually include up to seven food trailers.

Higgins said the park has received interest from several food truck vendors—both startup businesses and food truck veterans—to operate on the site.

"We have more than seven vendors that have expressed interest in coming over," he said. "I expect there to be some turnover [in who is operating at the park] at some point."

Food trucks from PooThai Authentic Thai Cuisine, Hot-Doggin, Austin Food Hound and CJ's Big Boy BBQ are expected to move in on a month-to-month lease. Soul food and possibly a dessert vendor are also expected on the lot, Higgins said.

Parking woes

Higgins said developers have filed a temporary parking agreement with the city, and once approval is given, trailers can move onto the lot.

The agreement would allow patrons to park on a gravel lot located across the street behind the Fox Auto Parts store.

"This parking agreement with the Fox Auto Parts building will allow us to open, test the market and make sure we are going to be OK before we make this a real permanent process," Higgins said, adding that plans are being made to build a permanent parking lot behind the food court.

"We've already started the process of the design and hiring an engineer to work on the site plan for a parking lot back there, but it's a multi-month process and a significant financial expense," he said. "So we want to make sure that once we are open that everything works smoothly and that we are successful and that the city and everybody is happy with what we are doing before we start spending that kind of money."

If approved, Higgins said trailers will begin setting up shop and the Williamson County & Cities Health District would complete food service inspections for each trailer.

City codes

At a presentation to City Council on March 26, Georgetown Planning Director Andrew Spurgin began discussions with council to update the Unified Development Code's provisions for mobile or outdoor food vending.

The city currently has a temporary-use permit in some zoning districts that was adopted into the code in 2010. No permits were sought, however, until late 2012, according to city documents.

Spurgin said the planning department has identified several additional criteria that need to be addressed, including sanitation, fire safety, restroom access and entertainment.

City staff is working on several amendments to the UDC that could include an update to the mobile food vendor permit, he said. Staff is expected to present a proposal on how to proceed with the UDC amendment process at the council's May 28 meeting.

"Done right, [food trailers] can be something that can be really great for a community, but I'll put the emphasis on it has to be done the right way," Spurgin said. "This can be a great way to bring people into an area where you are trying to encourage civic life."

Truck trend

Food trucks have also been showing up in other Williamson County cities, including Cedar Park and Round Rock, and a trailer park has been proposed in Hutto as well.

"We know that Round Rock has had some pretty good success with their food [trucks], " Higgins said. "We thought this would be a good way to be a part of something new and trendy in the Austin area but is still in line with Georgetown culture."



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