Rule Change Allows Food Trucks To Operate In Downtown Houston

Sep. 26, 2014Houston Public Media

A recently implemented rule change allows food trucks to use propane tanks downtown and in the Medical Center.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said it may not be the most important issue the city needs to address.

“But believe me, if you invest in a food truck, you want to serve great food to Houstonians. This absolutely makes a difference,” she said. “And if you’re one of the hundreds and hundreds and thousands of Houstonians that follow food truck culture in Houston, this is an important step forward.”

Previously, food trucks that wanted to operate downtown, like those at the weekly City Hall Farmer’s Market, needed a special permit and could only use electric stoves.

Parked on the downtown library plaza around lunchtime Friday, the colorful Modular food truck was serving fried Brussel sprouts and wild boar sausage, among other small dishes. But its menu differs every day.

Modular owner Joshua Martinez said the rule change levels the playing field for mobile restaurants in Houston.

“To have that much electric equipment, you have to have a very large generator,” he said, “and most people can’t run a generator that’s over 15,000 watts to run all that equipment.”

Food trucks have become increasingly popular in recent years, but they’ve faced some resistance from the restaurant industryhere in Houston.

Mayor Parker’s administration loosened the rules regarding propane tanks unilaterally after consulting with the Fire Department.

An additional change could go before City Council next month. It would address whether food trucks can put out tables and benches for their patrons.