Kerrville residents, visitors and business owners are now freer than ever to take advantage of a growing trend in food service and cuisine culture.
According to a 2018 report by the Washington Post, food trucks are now operating in more than 300 U.S. cities. Nationally, these mobile kitchens make up a $2.7 billion-a-year industry.
That’s up from $1.2 billion in 2015 — remarkable growth for an industry largely made up of small and locally owned businesses. That’s partially being driven by recognition of food trucks’ mass appeal by commercial property owners across the country.
Additionally, industry insiders say food trucks have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional eateries and tend to encourage foot traffic.
And now it’s easier than ever for food truck owners and operators to bring their kitchens-on-wheels to Kerrville.
Thanks to permitting and inspection changes recently approved by the city of Kerrville, owners of food trucks, or mobile food units, can now apply for annual permits, as opposed to temporary or event-oriented permits.
As Drew Paxton, the city’s executive director of development services, summed it up, the changes make things “easier on the vendor, while still meeting all the food and health safety requirements.”
And while the city deserves credit for harkening to public input and meeting with food truck owners to talk about the permitting process, much praise also is due to the entrepreneurs who have made a somewhat nontraditional business work for them.
Cindy Martin, who co-owns Firehouse Fare with her husband, said these changes will mean a great deal to her business.
“User-friendly is the word that comes to mind,” she said. “It just makes it a lot easier for us and the businesses we work with. “For events, for the brick and mortars — it’s a benefit to the citizens of Kerrville, for the convenience.”
Because Martin won’t have to renew her permit for the rest of the year, she said it’s now much easier for a local business or event organizers to seek her services.
Provided she has landowner approval, Martin can now set up shop at local businesses who couldn’t otherwise offer patrons a meal. But tasty fare on the go isn’t the only benefit Kerrville residents will see.
There’s also a direct economic impact.
Although Martin, who lives outside Boerne, isn’t herself a Kerrville resident, every meal she sells in Kerrville will contribute sales tax to the city’s coffers.
And with the number of non-residents Kerrville draws for events and “Winter Texan” visitors, a significant portion of those funds are dollars that will directly benefit our community — but don’t necessarily come from the pockets of local taxpayers.
Lowering the barriers of entry to help small businesses succeed is a good move — and one that benefits both business owners and patrons.
Kerrville is a city that celebrates entrepreneurs — from Captain Charles Schreiner himself to jewelry giant James Avery or the many fine, locally owned traditional restaurants here, we’ve no shortage of self-starters.
After all, perhaps the only thing more American than apple pie is turning around and selling them for a fair price.
This a change that not only makes good business sense but passes the taste test as well.