La Marque is beefing up its downtown revitalization efforts by supporting a food truck park.
“People love food trucks,” said Colleen Merritt, public relations specialist for the La Marque Economic Development Corp.
The corporation has been working to bring entertainment and dining options to its downtown revitalization project, the Renaissance District, and to offer local options for families and the workforce in downtown La Marque, Merritt said.
Market on 3, at 210 state Highway 3, opens today with a variety of vendors, said Greg Cornett, market manager and owner of La Marque’s Snow King snow-cone stand.
“It just keeps growing,” Cornett said. In recent weeks, he has reached out to different vendors around the county, offering free set-up to kick off the market and a low cost of operating on a regular basis once the market is established.
Signed up for today’s market were Local Roast, a Galveston County-based coffee roaster, Tonda’s Miracle Farms Goat Milk Products, organic products from April’s Rustic Living and Cha Cha Bowls from a Houston-based food truck operation, Cornett said. He also is opening the market to vendors of handmade crafts, prepared food items like jams and relishes and any type of product normally seen at farmers markets.
Cornett will bring his portable Snow King trailer to the market on weekends and will sell gyro sandwiches and hotdogs along with snow cones.
Other vendors will set up at the market on weekdays for lunch. Cha Cha Bowls is scheduled to begin its food truck service at the market this week, Merritt said.
The Economic Development Corp. installed power poles and a water tap on the empty lot to support the market, Merritt said, and has leased the land to Cornett for $1 a month for the first year. Cornett will have an option for a second year at $100 a month, Merritt said. Cornett is not being paid to manage the market.
Cornett is still looking for food vendors for the weekend and weekday markets.
“We’ve got a great location right off Highway 3 where all the plant workers can get there for lunch in about 10 minutes,” Cornett said.
The food truck park is modeled loosely after Texas City’s food truck lot on Sixth Street, part of Texas City’s own downtown revitalization efforts. La Marque and Cornett are banking on Highway 3’s steady traffic to draw customers, Cornett said.
“It’s busy, even more with the highway construction going on,” he said, referring to work on Interstate 45.
Food vendors are required to meet Galveston County Health District regulations to qualify for an annual permit, and potential vendors should look into those requirements, Cornett said.
“One guy went and had a trailer made and didn’t consult with them,” he said. “They didn’t approve it.”
Food truck operators have experienced success in places such as Austin but are sometimes viewed as unwanted competition for brick-and-mortar restaurants.
“All the feedback we’ve received has been positive,” Merritt said. “Citizens are excited for more dining and family friendly entertainment options.”
The Renaissance District is bordered by Bayou Street to the west and state Highway 3 to the east, and revitalization efforts are based on a 2017 master plan devised through community input by Texas A&M University’s Coastal Watershed Program.
“There is no specific timeline, but we are making steady progress,” Merritt said.
So far, the building that houses the Economic Development Corp.’s offices at 1130 First St. has been renovated as part of the project, and an abandoned former convenience store/car wash complex at 401 Laurel St. has been renovated and leased to house a coffee shop, Art of Coffee, and Birdies, a golf-themed restaurant. Official announcements about their openings are pending at the end of July or early August, Merritt said.
On Monday, the La Marque City Council approved an estimated $750,000 contract with RPA, an architectural firm, for streetscaping and landscaping in the Renaissance District.