Would You Eat at a Food Truck at The UP Pool?

Would you support a food truck if it parked outside Holmes Aquatic Center? Source: Easy Slider food truck

That’s the question being asked by the University Park City Council this week, after a Park Board member suggested the city offer more choices for food at the Holmes Aquatic Center.

Last month, board member Alex Richter implored the council to allow for additional options, or re-bid the contract for the concessionaire. At Tuesday’s Council meeting, councilmembers debated the pros and cons of the issue, before relegating it to the Parks Board to get their take.

Parks director Gerry Bradley offered a few suggestions, some as pie-in-the-sky ideas:

– Keep the concession stand as is

– Allow a food truck to park outside the gates at the center

– Allow a food truck to park inside the gates

– Rebid the concession stand

– Overhaul the concession stand, to the tune of $200,000- $250,000. This would allow the concessionaire to use ovens and stoves, as opposed to the microwaves and crock-pots he’s using now, Bradley said.

– Keep it as is

The concessionaire is currently on a year-to-year contract, Bradley said, and it’s reevaluated at the end of each summer. Park officials turn a blind eye to residents bringing their own food as well, he said, though it’s technically not allowed.

Highland Park invites a different food truck to visit its grounds every Sunday.

So, what says you, UP swimmer?

28 thoughts on “Would You Eat at a Food Truck at The UP Pool?

  • July 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm
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    Allow food trucks outside gates and overhaul the stand.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm
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    Which is the pie-in-the-sky idea? Seems to me that all should be considered.
    I definitely think introducing competition would be a good thing. Almost anything tastes good when you’re at the pool, but the current food is pretty gross. Some healtier options would also be a nice addition.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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    B- Council didn’t seem too keen on dropping a quarter-mil on stoves and vent hoods.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm
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    Food trucks would be fun or keep it the way it is. We use the snack bar for candy, chips, etc. but if we are going to eat a ‘real’ meal we’ll order pizza or bring Chick Fil A rather than spend $4-5 on microwaved burgers and chicken nuggets. Spending a quarter million on it seems like overkill when there are plenty of other good eating options nearby.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm
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    Bradford – that makes sense, but isn’t that about what they spent to overhaul the park at Lovers and Hillcrest?
    If they don’t want to spend the $, have the food trucks provide the hot stuff and charge them a fee for access to the pool patrons.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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    What does the community league recommend?

    I’d put a 7-11 there.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm
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    The parks director is very generous to allow outside food into the pool. No other city does that. Also, unlike Highland Park, University Park is blessed with a wide variety of excellent restaurants and cafes. I’d be more in favor of encouraging folks to eat in the places that support their community. We also need to support our pool vendor. UP gets no sales tax or property tax from food trucks, plus they don’t give back to the community like alot of our local businesses do. Support the home team!

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  • July 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm
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    The environment at the UP Pool is one of the things that makes Mayberry (in the honor of Andy Griffith) great. Full dining options seem frivolous.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm
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    I write for D Magazine’s SideDish blog, mostly focusing on food trucks. It’s an area that I know very, very well. I’m also a resident of UP.

    There are pros and cons to bringing in food trucks, but mostly pros.

    On the negative side, the food trucks are subject to more variables. Extreme heat can cause the owner/operators to not show up. Trucks can break down. There are lots of mechanical things rattling around in there. I don’t think that you would want no concession and then a food truck is very late or a no-show.

    On the positive side, the food trucks can bring in significantly better food than the UP pool concessionaire offers. Even if you upgrade the facility, you’d still have the same dull food. With the food trucks, you could have some of the best sliders, tenderloin quesadilla, grilled cheese, shaved ice, artisan pizza, burgers, philly cheesesteak, pulled pork sandwiches, baja tacos, asian-fusion steak sandwiches, and more.

    The food trucks will also be cleaner than the concession stand that we have now. The food trucks are rigorously surprise inspected by the City of Dallas constantly, and most of them get a thorough top to bottom cleaning every night at their appointed commissary (where they park).

    As far as supporting local places that support the community … At least 3 of the food trucks are owned by Park Cities residents: Ruthies Grilled Cheese, Green House, and City Street Grille. Ruthies has been seen at Armstrong Elementary providing free lunch for teachers and staff. Trailercakes has been at Bradfield Elementary, and provided a portion of their revenue to the PTA.

    Each of the food trucks will need to pay a UP permit fee. I don’t know UP’s rate, but typical is $300-$500 per year. Multiply that by the currently active 40 or so food trucks in this area.

    Most of the food truck owners would love, love to be part of serving at UP. They understand that they are getting in front of people who would often sign them up for private block parties and birthday parties.

    I would recommend downsizing the current concessionaire to only drinks, ice cream, chips, and other snack sized foods. But bring in a minimum of two food trucks per weekend day, and one on weekdays. Up to 3 on special events. The Parks Department could consider a special location with power (so that the trucks don’t have to run generators) and possibly even covering (to minimize the internal food truck heat, which can get up to the 140 degree range).

    If nothing else, it’s not hard to try an experiment. The Parks Dept. can bring in Easy Slider and Ruthie’s for a weekend …. get customer reaction … see the effect on the current concessionaire.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm
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    I was hoping you’d chime in, George. Thanks.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm
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    Female friends suggest money should be first be spent redoing the ladies’ restroom. Can’t say I’ve seen it first hand, but they say it’s far below par with the rest of the recent remodeling that was done.

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  • July 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm
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    I would love different and better food options at the pool. I think the food trucks are a great idea, and I would definitely visit them if they came to the pool. I would also really like to see healthier food options at the snack bar, instead of just warehouse-club type snacks and the current gross hot food offerings. I would definitely pay more for natural and/or healthier snack and meal choices for my kids and myself – and I know a lot of other moms agree. For example, if we could get pop chips, a healthy wrap sandwich, fresh fruit, or even an organic hot dog, we would stick around at the pool much longer instead of hiking home for meals. I don’t think that the snack bar needs a complete overhaul to offer healthier and better-for-you food choices! (But a grill in there would be great!)

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  • July 7, 2012 at 10:28 am
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    “The food trucks will also be cleaner than the concession stand that we have now.” Now George, I’m not itching to get into a fight with a journalist sitting on a big pot of ink, but that was an unfair comment. The concession stand at the pool has gotten near perfect health inspections for many many years. 97 points out of 100 for the last two (view online at uptexas.org) which means the operator at the pool is super super clean. All food service in UP is regularly and rigorously surprise inspected. Having food trucks in UP here and there on special occasions is probably a good idea. But vending at the pool is a long term activity that needs a long term solution. Instead of just cutting out the vendor, why not tell him what you want and give him and the city a chance to respond to the requests?

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  • July 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm
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    “sitting on a big pot of ink”. I like that phrase. And I agree with your comments

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  • July 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm
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    I served as a lifeguard at the UP pool for many years, then worked as the pool manager for several years and in the past 17 years have raised (and fed and back in the early years even showered and pj’d) my kids at the UP pool. The good folks that run the concession stand are huge HP supporters (they serve at our stadiums, attend HP games and know our kids), help watch out for the kids at the pool and maintain an immaculate food service area. Re the comments by George, Max answered unfounded concerns about the concession area succinctly above!

    I love a food truck as much as everyone else and support their business every chance I can (especially yummy Ruthie’s). However, the expense for our family of 7 to eat daily at a food truck is prohibitive. The concession stand at the pool and the city’s allowing outside food to be brought into the pool has been a blessing for our family during the summer months.

    On a personal note, looking at the lines at every adult swim and the kids eating their hot dogs, nachos, toaster cheese (yep, they have to make them in a toaster and microwave oven) and burgers at the pool lead me to believe that many pool patrons enjoy the reasonably price food at the concession stand. If I want an adult choice, I stop on the way or bring it from home. Plus, spending less than $10 on ice cream or a pool snow cone for 5 kids sure beats spending $25 at the ENTICED food truck for shaved ice. Yes, I too would love healthier choices for myself, but I can guarantee my kids would opt for a burger, nachos or dog from Bill rather than the turkey sandwich I “make” them eat at home or pack for them on days when I get it organized.

    On a different note, the thought of parents sitting outside the gates in food truck lines in the heat for up to a 1/2 hour or more waiting on individual food orders, leaving little kids swimming unsupervised makes the old lifeguard in me tremble. Quite often, if there is a crowd, the food truck lines take even longer than 1/2 an hour.

    If the concession situation must be changed, I truly hope that the City will give the current concession provider every opportunity to meet the needs of our community, a community he has served for at least the 30+ years I can remember being a UP pool patron. And, I hope that UP makes certain that those asking for change represent the needs of the majority pool users.

    Katy Barklow Abel

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  • July 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm
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    Max, if the current concessionaire is getting the high ratings, then mea culpa. Quite honestly, I was merely getting in front of the inevitable comment from some uninformed source that the food trucks are dirty. In fact, in various cities across the US, these sorts of mobile food vendors have fewer reports of food-related illness.

    I don’t think that we need to cut out the current vendor. Simply remove his exclusivity.

    What we don’t know is the extent of the current exclusivity. Does it apply to inside-the-gates only? Does it apply to the parking spaces on Lover’s Lane and/or Westminster? Depending on that answer, the food trucks could come in right now.

    Another option is to have the food trucks park across Lover’s Lane in the UP Elementary parking spaces. Then, it is no longer a Parks Dept. question. The decision belongs to whoever owns that right-of-way (either the city or the school).

    We actually do agree quite a bit. As I originally said, the food trucks can sometimes be too dependent on weather and mechanical issues. I think you need both and let the consumer decide. There should be ample revenue room for both.

    Lastly, this is actually a larger issue for the city to think about. How about food trucks at Goar Park during high soccer season? On Preston Road at the YMCA? At Coffee Park at flag football games? On Lover’s Lane (Miracle Mile) in partnership with one of the clothing shops?

    And yeah, I like the “big pot of ink” line as well. Except that Bradford is the one with the big pot of ink. Food trucks just happens to be an area that I know quite well.

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  • July 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm
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    Food trucks are a fad what do you do when it is fizzled?

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  • July 8, 2012 at 12:20 am
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    I remember when there was a grill at the pool and you could get non-microwaved hamburgers. But, I believe, the county health department restrictions were going to be too costly and it was removed. This was in the mid to late 90’s.

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  • July 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm
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    The pool does not make money or even break even.

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  • July 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm
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    It would be truely uninformed to call today’s food truck a Roach Coach. I think that probably has to do more with better health inspections that are published online rather than some special cleaning routine that food trucks may go through. The operator of any food service establishment is either clean or he is not, the venue makes no difference. The pool vendor probably has exclusivity in his contract, but is he really going to stand in the way of a momma bear from UP trying to satisfy her 4 little darlings who have a serious craving for NY Subs? Nope. So what we already have at the pool is flexibility, not exclusivity, albeit unwritten and maybe a little coerced. Reducing the pool vendor’s menu to drinks and snacks alone and relying on the sometimes unreliable food trucks for the good stuff is going to take a big bite (pun!) out of the vendor’s gross (pun!) sales. It may not be worth it for him to continue. Then when the trucks don’t show, we could end up with parks director Gerry Bradley stirring a pot of beans and weenies and no one wants that.

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  • July 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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    how about making it a private club for the residents and have grill nights or other themed events and alcohol served after 5pm – similar to the KC Pool on northwest highway???

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  • July 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm
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    I have been going to the pool with my family for over 30 years and I love it! The current concessionaire has always taken care of us. Their menu has grown considerably over the years (by customers’ requests), the prices are more than reasonable, they have tried different things (I remember the outdoor grill), and, most importantly, they are always there. If the pool is open, so is the concession stand. I think we should support the people who have supported us for so long and so faithfully. Stick with the current vendor. If you have suggestions for menu additions, I’m sure they would listen.

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  • July 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm
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    Doesn’t the HP Pool have a food truck on Sunday nights for Family Night?

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  • July 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm
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    HPHS X2 MOM- What and where is this magical thing called the KS Pool that serves alcohol and how can I obtain a lifetime membership?

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  • July 13, 2012 at 8:13 am
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    I would love to see new food options at the UP Pool, but bringing in food trucks would not help. First, as a mom to younger kids, I am not going to leave them at the pool alone, so I can go stand in a line outside at a food truck ( what a pain) . I also don’t think a 2 yr old would be cooperative as to go out and stand in line with me. As it is now, if my older ones want something, they can go alone to the concession and order something for themselves and are happy, and I know where they are. I am not going to let them go outside the gates, let alone across the street, to get something from a food truck. I think asking the people in charge of concession now to offer things such as fruit cups and a few healthier options would be a good option. A “real” grill would be nice too. I think a 200,000 dollar overhaul is a bit much, it is a pool, not a restaurant. Like other posters have mentioned, just have something delivered or bring it with you when you come if you want something a bit more fancy.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 8:17 am
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    We recently moved here and this is our family’s first summer at the pool. I LOVE the friendliness and simplicity of the current stand, and VERY MUCH appreciated that we can bring outside food in. As a mother of 5 kids, it makes the pool a fun and financially reasonable Friday night outing. It’s lovely to see the kids line up for treats that remind me of my childhood: sno-cones and nachos. KEEP IT THE WAY IT IS! It’s part of what makes UP pool so special!

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  • July 13, 2012 at 8:23 am
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    I like the idea of trying food trucks first before investing $200-$250k, which I see translating into higher prices for admission. Food trucks offer convenience, variety, and seem less risky (i.e. easily changed out if proven to not work).

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  • July 13, 2012 at 9:14 am
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    the knights of columbus on shoreview and ferndale by white rock skate – my lake highlands friends say there is a 3 year waiting list for family memberships and apparantly you do not have to be catholic to apply …..

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