In an area once largely void of food trucks, Tomball residents have begun to see an increase in mobile dining options over the past few months and will soon have an opportunity to visit a new venue just outside of city limits.
Bernie’s Backyard, a food truck park and entertainment venue, is slated to open this summer at 22314 I-45 near Old Town Spring. The venue will offer live music, craft beer, a kid-friendly dessert shop and multiple food truck vendors.
C. Evans, a park official with Bernie’s Backyard, said the venue will bring a much-needed entertainment option to the Spring area.
“[The founders of Bernie’s Backyard] are all foodies,” Evans said. “We like the food truck experience, [and] we find it’s unique. I don’t believe there’s anything like [this] in the area. I hope Houston’s ready for us—the food truck scene is growing.”
The lot contains eight individual spaces for food trucks as well as gas, water and electricity connections. Evans said mobile eatery owners will be able to rent spaces much like they would at a parking lot or other private property. The food trucks at the venue will feature various cuisines, including Greek and Italian as well as burgers, barbecue dishes, chicken tenders and a french fry truck.
“There’s food [options] for the whole family, and usually that’s the hardest thing for my family to decide is where we’re going to go out to eat,” Evans said. “We all come up with different things. [Venues like this] have to have something for [the kids], and something for me and my wife.”
Venues like Bernie’s Backyard could be an alternative option to house the growing number of food trucks in the Tomball area, Evans said. However, members of the Tomball City Council, including Derek Townsend, have expressed concerns about the lacking aesthetics of food trucks in local parking lots.
“I don’t believe there’s anything like [this] in the area. I hope Houston’s ready for us—the food truck scene is growing.” —C. Evans, a park official with Bernie’s Backyard
Townsend said he suggests the city modify its existing ordinance to state that mobile food eateries can not be left at a particular site for an extended period of time.
“I just don’t want us to get into the position to where we’ve got portable, [semi]permanent restaurants up and down our streets,” Townsend said. “It’s not fair to the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into a building. We have other people who have bought [buildings] at a greater expense.”
Popular semipermanent eateries, such as Sindy’s Tacos and The Black Garlic, operate by obtaining six-month permits, undergoing inspections from Harris County and leasing space from landowners.
In order to obtain permits, food trucks must pass inspections to demonstrate the vehicles meet food safety, water and electric standards. In addition, written and notarized permission to operate must be on display for customers, according to the Harris County Public Health and Environment Services website.
During an April 20 meeting, Tomball City Council discussed passing an amendment to the city ordinance that could prevent semipermanent food trucks or trailers from obtaining or renewing permits. The ordinance could also limit the amount of time a mobile truck could stay in one site.
“The easiest way to [solve the issue] is to say, ‘You’ve got one six-month permit and that’s it,’” Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan said during the April 20 meeting. “It would be a lot easier [for city officials] to say we won’t issue a second permit.”
In May, council members are expected to further discuss and possibly take action on the issue.
Despite concerns from city officials, Evans said mobile eateries are beneficial and bring new people to the area.
“It’s part of the economic stimulus of the community,” Evans said. “It’s a benefit—it is a business.”