Update: The Hitch blames city regulations, meanwhile the city of San Marcos calls the allegations, “rumors.”
According to the city’s press release, “Beginning in January of 2017 the Health Department began working with mobile food vendors to ensure they were able to be mobile food vendors as intended by the state laws. This actually allowed for mobile food vendors to move from location to location without having to obtain any additional permits. This means it is actually easier for mobile food vendors to pick locations that are more conducive to their particular business model instead of confining them to only a few designated sites with additional permit requirements.”
The City Health Department will be hosting meetings with all permit holders over the next few months to update them on the differences between the previous 2006 and 2015 regulations. The 2015 rules will be the standard for new food permits issued in 2018 and for the 2018 renewal process.
The city states, “The Health Department also implemented a policy that for the 2017 permit renewal period, no establishments would be shut down just on the basis of being a ‘portable’. There were a set of guidelines established to inspect for any critical health hazard issues.”
The full release can be found here.
Friday marked the last day for San Marcos’ first mobile food park known as The Hitch. Vendors drove their mobile business away from 312 E. Hopkins St., after a new city regulation changed certain requirements of permits.
The Hitch has operated since June 2011, providing varieties of food including pitas, snow cones, burgers and treats to community members and students. In the past seven years, more than 20 food vendors have populated the space.
The Hitch announced the closing of the seven-year outdoor cafeteria through its blog.
“Sadly, over the past few months, one-by-one each of our current vendors have had to make the hard decision to permanently close or relocate outside of San Marcos,” the post read. “While there is a unique set of factors for each circumstance, a common thread has been uncertainty regarding their ability to continue to obtain a permit to operate from the City’s Health Department.”
Back in March, the Health Department staff changed certain requirements for Mobile Food Establishment permits. These changes made it difficult for vendors to obtain or renew their permits.
“Further, the new requirements have also made it impractical for new trailers that have wanted to join The Hitch to embark on the permitting process,” stated the blog post.
Vendors are now in the process of moving outside city limits, or solely operating from their brick and motor locations.
The blog post advocated for community members to drop a note to the city manager’s office or reach out to council to request that they codify a reasonable ordinance that allows Mobile Food Establishments to operate at places like The Hitch.
“Tell them you want a community where the smallest of small businesses are supported,” stated the blog post. “While The Hitch is unlikely to reopen, there remains at least one park on Guadalupe Street and those vendors deserve your support, as do future vendors that would love the opportunity to bring their food to you in the future.”
Although most trucks left the lot on Friday, WANderLust remains open until further notice but expects to close by December before relocating to Austin in 2018.
In addition to lunch-break escapes, The Hitch also hosted the Tuesday farmer market, and will continue to do so from 3 to 6 p.m.
Owners are uncertain of what will fill the vacant lot.