Meet Cowtown Chow Down Food Truck Park Owner Charlie Flores

by Steven Doyle

Food trucks hit the streets of DFW last year in a major way. Perhaps North Texas was a bit behind but what we lacked in timeliness we are making up for in quantity. I say North Texas, but Fort Worth has truly embraced the idea that you can lease a truck and run it around town having fans follow you for the latest in burgers, pizza and tacos. Fort Worth is also big on the food truck parks. Lets check that score: Fort Worth two, Dallas zero.        

This will change in the coming weeks as the Dallas area opens their first truck park, but once that score is marked the balance will shift heavily in the favor of Fort Worth again as rumors of new parks in Tarrant county are abound. There are at least three more in the works.

We met the most recent entry in to the truck park ownership yesterday at the grand opening of Cowtown Chow Down, located at N. 1100 Main Street. Meet Charlie Flores III.

Hi Charlie, you just opened today?

Yes, we had a ribbon cutting with the mayor of Fort Worth yesterday afternoon.

This looks like it may be a repurposed car lot.

I have been in the car business for 25 years and at this address since 1997. I am still in the business but have relocated Rio Grande Autos to another location.

What possesses someone to open a food truck park?

There’s a multitude of reasons how this came about. First, the economic crash we had in 2008 followed by the Cash for Clunkers program where the government tried to stimulate new car sales. This devastated my piece of the pie and the entire used car market. 700,000 cars were traded in on that program and they all went to salvage yards. That business isn’t as profitable as it had always been.

We started thinking outside the box in how we might use the property. A year ago we saw this concept in Austin on Congress. We showed up on a Thursday at 3pm  and it was hustling. We started looking into it then.

How many trucks will fit into this space?

We can accommodate 17 on this property.

Parking is a bit of a bitch.

Well, it’s the grand opening and we have an over abundance of people visiting the park. But we have plans to expand our parking lot immediately. I spoke to our neighbor this morning and he is willing to lease out the additional space. It’s a good problem.

Was it difficult to find new tenants for opening day?

Not really. but when we first went public with the plans I thought it would be as simple as selling off the cars and then bring in all the food trucks. I found out real quick it wasn’t as simple as opening. The biggest hurdle was the electrical. I had to install poles to each of the trucks had their needs met.

How do you promote a food truck park?

I think the word is out, but we have some unique features such as the number of trucks we have, but we also allow in arts and crafts vendors.  The location for this park is incredible.  We will have plenty of entertainment, plus this summer I will install water evaporators to cool the air. We also have an indoors dining area with limited seating.

Are there more parks in the works for Tarrant County?

There are multiple parks in the works. I met this morning with someone from the city of Irving, they are planning one. So is the city of Keller.  There is also another being worked up on 7th and Carroll.

Why is Dallas so behind in this idea?

It all has to do with the city government.  Fort Worth is willing to work with people and is big on economic development.

The park was bustling the first day giving hope to the concept, and it seemed well received.  It is close enough to the business district that people could grab a fast get-a-way for lunch with little effort.

We spoke to a few of the truck owners and they seemed pleased with the first day’s sales.

Chic Henderson of Potato-Potahto truck has been running his specialty baked potato truck for 3 months, mostly in the Dallas Arts District has signed a lease with the park and will be jetting back and forth between the two cities.

Henderson’s special was  pecan smoked brisket, chili, pulled pork and wild boar, all which are topped on his gargantuan potatoes.

“We signed a lease to be here on and off on Friday and Saturdays for at least six weeks. This looks like it will be really successful,” said Henderson as the band cued up and starting playing.

The day was warm, the food was hot and the people were excited about the newst food truck venture in Forth Worth.

You can reach Charlie Flores III at cowtownfoodpark@gmail.com

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Filed under chefs, Crave, Fort Worth, fun with food, Steven Doyle

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