First Harlingen food truck park planned

Fernando Del Valle, Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas
·4 min read

Feb. 24—HARLINGEN — The city's first food truck park might be opening close to neighborhoods in an area near the new Harlingen Convention Center and the Harlingen Boys and Girls Club.

Now, businessman Christian Zanca is buying the land where he plans to develop a food truck park featuring 10 food trucks on a couple of acres.

But he declined to disclose the site's location.

"Location, location, location," Zanca said Tuesday, nearly a week after city commissioners passed an ordinance regulating food truck parks popping up across the Rio Grande Valley. "It's a good location. It's a great property. I like to believe I've got a good eye on the future and where the future is headed."

By summer, Zanca plans to open the city's first food truck park.

What's in the new ordinance

After weeks of debate, commissioners last week passed the ordinance which will require developers to request approval of special use permits to open food truck parks.

"It is a new type of facility and we're looking forward to having that proceed in our community," City Manager Dan Serna said Tuesday. "It's something new for our citizens. It's multiple food products. It's another dining experience for our citizens and I think it will be well received."

As part of the special use permits' approval process, commissioners will determine the distance food truck parks will be located from neighborhoods.

The ordinance requires developers' site plans specify their parks' maximum capacity to determine numbers of restrooms and parking spaces.

The ordinance also requires owners of food truck parks conduct audits to determine whether more than 50 percent of their sales derive from alcohol purchases, in which case the city will require they hire a security guard.

The ordinance also requires food truck parks to comply with the city's noise control ordinance.

Brownsville business model

Now, Zanca is planning to develop a food truck park similar to the two-acre Broken Sprocket, a park he co-owns featuring seven food trucks about 100 yards from a neighborhood in the 6000 block of Parades Line Road in Brownville.

"It will be very similar," he said, referring to his plans to develop a Harlingen food truck park.

In Brownsville, the Broken Sprocket features "a hip outdoor beer and wine garden and live music stage."

Inside the park, brightly detailed food trucks surround a courtyard in which strings of lights hover over canopy-covered tables and park benches.

"The idea is to give the entire family something that they want and have fun," Zanca said.

Location, location, location

In Harlingen, Zanca said he's planning to develop a food truck park in an area near the convention center and the Boys and Girls Club.

"We're within walking distance of homes," he said of the prospective site. "I think it will be something that will benefit the entire area, specifically the neighborhoods near by. I hope it will bring up the property values of homes. We've seen that in Brownsville."

Technology controlled sound

During weeks of discussion, city commissioners questioned whether a food truck park's live music would turn into a nuisance for nearby neighborhoods.

At his Brownsville food truck park, noise isn't a problem, Zanca said.

"I've got a really good sound guy to make sure everything is contained in the park," Zanca, who said he plans to feature acoustic guitar players and small solo acts, said. "You can walk out of the perimeter of our wall 50 yards and you can't hear music anymore."

In about a year, he might stage concerts here, he said.

"We'd like to hold concerts down the road," he said. "If we did, it would be with the approval of the city."

Big family draw

Zanca said he plans to open his food truck park near neighborhoods to draw families.

"For the most part, we get big family units," he said, referring to his Brownsville food truck park. "It's different. The main thing is to give people something to do where the whole family's comfortable. There's nothing in Harlingen that's family friendly."

Variety of food-truck specialties

But it's the variety of mouth-watering, down-home food-truck specialties that draw his customers to his park.

"We've got great food in the Valley but we don't have variety," he said. "The food truck owners put a lot of pride in their food."

Zanca said he's planning a park featuring 10 food trucks, each dishing out different menus.

"None of them will serve anything similar to each other," he said. "That's a big part of the business plan. That's why people come."