Sunday, May 26, 2024

Azle food truck park overcomes first month, farmers market debut date confirmed

Farmers market to open June 1, FeedLot to see reduced hours during Music in the Park

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AZLE — There’s a lot going on the lot at 225 Church St. Every Friday and Saturday since March 29, the space has been home to The FeedLot, Azle’s very own food truck park. While largely successful, the food truck venue has faced its share of hurdles in its debut month. For example, the city has received noise complaints from at least four homes on nearby Locust Street. However, closing by 9 p.m., the food truck park adheres to all city noise ordinances, Director of Planning and Development Hawkins said at a recent Azle City Council meeting.

The city has also faced a problem of food truck no-shows. Prior to opening, the Azle City Council expressed concerns about food trucks scheduling a spot at the lot and then not arriving when the day comes. Councilmembers devised a $20 no-show fee to disincentivize proprietors from this practice. At the April meeting, City of Azle community and marketing specialist Kristin Pegues informed the council that the threat of a $20 fee has not been effective in dissuading food truck operators from no-showing.

Apart from the no-shows, other trucks have become dedicated staples, appearing over several weekends since the park opened.

“I will tell you, the barbecue guy I talked to, he’s been there every Saturday,” Pegues said. “I asked him how is the customer stuff, how many have you been serving on average? He said most of it is between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and between 6-7 p.m. He said, ‘on average for the whole day I’ll get about five (customers) an hour. I usually do 10 (customers) an hour and that’s with two trucks being here every weekend. I don’t know how I would do with three.’”

The city has also been successful in providing entertainment for the site each weekend. Currently, many of the FeedLot’s operations fall under the purview of Hawkins and Pegues on top of their pre-existing duties. The city hopes to soon hire several individuals to occupy this role exclusively.

“Things are really rocking and rolling,” Hawkins said. “We’ve had a band every week. Last week we posted part-time positions for assistants who would take care of the food truck park.”

Councilmembers and administrators will continue to work out the kinks as time goes on. Even with the problems, city officials and trucks like R&N Smokin Sweet Savour BBQ are not ready to write The FeedLot off.

“It’s new and people are still getting to know it and that’s why he keeps coming back because he feels like once it takes off, he can get there,” Pegues said.

Administrators have tirelessly dedicated their weekends to scheduling live music acts and tending to all other needs of the park. Pegues has been bringing her dog on weekends and says he has become an unofficial mascot.

In another hurdle, the city’s special events advisory board has also expressed concerns that operating two live music venues simultaneously could upset sponsors of the upcoming annual Music in the Park. Music in the Park is a live music event scheduled every Friday in May and June from 8-10 p.m. The event typically hosts two food trucks of its own.

At an April 16 Azle City Council meeting, councilmembers addressed these fears by limiting The FeedLot’s hours from 5-8 p.m. and promising no live music at the space on Fridays during May and June. Councilmembers also suggested erecting banners at each event promoting the other. The council hopes that by doing this, the city can strengthen both efforts.

“We’re all one city here,” Mayor Alan Brundrett said. “It’s not us against them and them against us. We’re here to make the whole city successful.”

To promote The FeedLot in the future, Councilmember Stacy Peek proposed the idea of creating community signage promoting local activities and events near the road in front of Azle City Hall. Councilmembers also hope to install a sound system at the site.

When proposing the idea for a food truck park in Azle in prior meetings, the city council vocalized they expected setbacks and unexpected challenges. Ultimately, the group determined the best way to view the project was as an experiment that could change as needed. Comments from the most recent city council meeting echo that sentiment.

“I could think of a thousand things that could go wrong and could happen, but let’s go with that now and see what happens,” the mayor said of the proposed May-June plans.

More to come…

In another example of the city’s ambitions for the site, a new farmers market is set to soon be unveiled at 225 Church St. as well.

Azle community members have previously experimented with a farmers market as recently as 2016 on Southeast Parkway, with the project shortly closing down. The city will welcome a market once again now under the management of nonprofit Community Link. The market is planned to open June 1 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 225 Church St, operating alongside The FeedLot. City officials hope the two events will help promote one another and further establish the location as a place where Azleites can gather to have fun and support local commerce. Community Link has recently opened applications to local vendors with some stipulations listed below.

  • Vendors are required to hand make, bake, grow or raise ALL the items that they sell. No RESALE of any kind, this includes MLMs.
  • All produce must be grown within a 150-mile radius and sold directly from the farmer **NO RESALE**.
  • Vendors are required to follow Texas Cottage Food laws and local health code requirements. You will have to provide proof of compliance.
  • There is a $10 nonrefundable application fee that is donated to our friends at Community Link to Fight Hunger and create a Link to Hope in Northwest Tarrant County.
  • To keep the market ratio of 60% food and 40% craft, there is currently a waitlist for craft vendors and baked goods vendors. We encourage you to apply for if/when there is an opening. Spots will be filled from applications first.

Interested parties are encouraged to apply at https://azlefarmersmarket.org/vendor-info/ or reach out with questions via email: info@azlefarmersmarket.org. The Azle Farmers Market and The FeedLot will continue to post updates and news under their respective names on Facebook.