Food trailer lease to expire, some vendors forced to move

Food trailers on South Congress Avenue may not belong to SoCo much longer. The popular mobile eateries are facing lease terminations intended to make way for hotel construction by March 2013.

However, these Austin staples will continue to be open for business and are looking for places to relocate. The food trailers seem to be heading in separate directions, but they all intend to stay open and continue serving food to the Austin community.

Chris Ruiz, the chef at Mighty Cone, said they have been looking at several locations, one in particular in East Austin.

“It’s going to affect all of us,”  Ruiz said when asked how he felt the food trailers’ lease terminations would impact the SoCo community. “It’s going to take away from the atmosphere of being able to eat outside and share experiences with out-of-towners that visit the food trucks on South Congress. They come back every year because they know where we are, especially around events like ACL.”

The Hey Cupcake! trailer, which is owned by St. Edward’s University alumnus Wes Hurt, has not yet publicized plans for relocation, but will release information onthe trailer’s Facebook page.

Other food trailers currently located on South Congress, such as Fry Baby, are unsure about where they see themselves in a couple of months.

“I don’t know yet,” Fry Baby owner Jamie Rice said. “We’ve known for a year that they’re kicking us out, but maybe it’ll fall through again.”

The food trailers are located in the middle of South Congress and feature long lines of customers most days of the week. They have become a SoCo landmark and a go-to eating place for St. Edward’s students, Austinites and tourists alike.

Thai food, cupcakes, fried pickles, Indian dosas, snow cones, gyros, sub sandwiches and fish and chips are just some types of food that can be found in the SoCo food trailers. Their variety and style make the food trailers an appealing concept that carries out the “Keep Austin Weird” maxim.

Junior Jordan Schmid is disappointed that the iconic South Austin trailer park may be forced to move from the current location.

“It’s upsetting because I think the trailers really represent this sort of area of South Austin. They’ve been there for a long time,”  Schmid said. “I feel like getting rid of them would kind of ruin South Congress.”

Some trailers are already thinking about the future and looking for a new place to call home, but many do not have a new location yet. Even though the trailers may have to leave South Congress, they will not be disappearing for good.

“We know it’s going to happen,” Ruiz said. “We can’t prevent it. But we have strong followers, and our people will follow us wherever we go. We’ll stay close. Maybe we’ll just start keeping Austin weird on the east side.”