Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Food Trucks in Deep Ellum

The Deep Ellum Food Truck Rally is coming to Deep Ellum!  The urban activist in me is extremely pleased to shut down Main St. and turning a road normally for cars into a space for people.

It's an undeniable fact that food trucks are currently a trend and that they draw a lot people.  It's also an undeniable fact that Deep Ellum needs more people in its street, so it makes sense to combine the two.

The west side of Deep Ellum is currently shaping up to be the commercial side of the neighborhood.  Elm St. currently boasts a concentration of bars (Anvil Pub, Black Swan, La Grange, Reno's, July Alley, etc.) while Commerce has proven to be a home for restaurants (Twisted Root, Freeman, Cane Rosso, Angry Dog, St. Pete's, Buzzbrews, etc.).  By natural extension, then, Main St. should be where all the retail is, and for the most part it's shaping to be that way (Lula B's, Millennium, In Accord, Dallas Pinup, Mid to Mod, etc.).  But how many people relate shopping with Deep Ellum?

With the exception of an occasional crowd at the Curtain Club, Main St. remains forgotten among this crest of Deep Ellum revitalization.  How can this be when Main has the widest sidewalks, the shadiest trees, and cool storefronts, making it one of the most pedestrian friendly stretches of land in the City of Dallas?

The reason is that Deep Ellum isn't relevant in a city-wide discussion of important neighborhoods, and many businesses suffer from this fact.  Granted, Cane Rosso is relevant in the Dallas culinary scene, and Trees and Dada are relevant in the music scene, but there are plenty of people who still won't come here because there are plenty of other options around town that are more familiar to them.

There is currently a nationwide debate pitting gourmet food trucks against brick and mortar restaurants. In putting together this event, I've personally been drawn into this debate.  There are many restaurant owners that see this Rally as an immediate threat to their business.  My defense of this project is fivefold:

1) Ours a special event and not a daily or even weekly occurrence.
2) You cannot deny trends, and this event will bring even more people to the neighborhood.
3) If the neighborhood continues to develop as it should, there will be plenty more competition for all restaurants. This will mimic that competitive environment.
4) The advantage of Deep Ellum as a venue for a food truck event is that the neighborhood provides alternatives to a 30 min wait standing at the truck or a selection of trucks that you don't want to eat at anyways.
5) The event is designed to serve dinner and entertain people with live music, but it ends early and encourages people to stay in Deep Ellum to shop or drink.

Perhaps the fear is that one food truck will lead to two, which will lead to the entire neighborhood being overrun with mobile restaurants.  But again, Deep Ellum must remain relevant to be a viable place for businesses to set up and for people to move in to.

1 comment:

  1. Crispy, completely roasted bun, clean, crunchy cucumbers, delightful chicken and a delightful marinade - Nammi's banh mi was a hit! I distributed some with my husband and he was instantly sad he didn't purchase the same.

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