Deep Ellum Now Has Its Own Food Truck Rally, but Restaurant Owners Aren't All Thrilled

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The Deep Ellum Outdoor Market shut down Main Street over the weekend for a food truck rally. For some, especially the 10 or so trucks there, the night was a success.

Cajun Tailgators ran out of food at 9:30 p.m. The Munch Box had a "sea of people" outside their truck and only stopped serving when Dallas PD told them to scat because they were re-opening Main Street.

But there's a bit of contention between food truck vendors and brick-and-mortar restaurants, captured by the since-deleted Facebook post you see above. Does a food truck rally on Main Street in Deep Ellum help nearby restaurants by bringing more people to the area? Or does it hurt because people are eating at food trucks instead restaurants?

John Jay Myers owns The Free Man Cajun Café and Lounge, one block south of Main on Commerce Street. "It killed our normal business from 7 to 8 that night, but at a certain point I think people started getting frustrated with the trucks and we got slammed from 8 to 10."

Pete Zotos of St. Pete's Dancing Marlin wasn't aware of the event prior to Friday evening and was surprised by a late rush of customers.

"If they would have told us it was going on, we could have properly staffed up." Zotos said. "For about 20 minutes we got a little overwhelmed from customers walking in looking something to eat."

In all, Zotos said, he "didn't dig it so much" and would prefer to see such an event on a Thursday night when things are slower.

Brandon Castillo with the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and one of the key organizers of the event anticipated tension from local restaurants and posted a blog defending the rally last week. He anticipated long lines at food trucks as a benefit to the area's restaurants.

Castillo said they learned a lot of lessons on Friday and have things to smooth out before the next one, which could possibly be in June, but definitely in July when they celebrate the second year anniversary of the DEOM. Being an advocate of Deep Ellum, he hopes to capitalize off the food truck trend and raise awareness of many of the great spots in neighborhood.

Twisted Root Burger Company manager Erica Smith said business was great for them on Friday night. "We were really busy that night. There wasn't a drop in business at all. I think it might have helped."

A clear advantage to restaurants is alcohol sales: Food trucks can't sell alcohol. Still, some restaurant owners are skittish.

"If it only happens once in a while I'm OK with it, but I would not be happy if it was a once a week thing," Myers of The Free Man said.

And according to Castillo, at least for the foreseeable future, only once in a while is the plan.

Location Info

The Free Man

2626 Commerce St., Dallas, TX

Category: Music

St. Pete's Dancing Marlin

2730 Commerce St., Dallas, TX

Category: Music

Twisted Root Burger Co.

2615 Commerce St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Deep Ellum Outdoor Market

2820 Indiana Blvd., Dallas / Fort Worth, TX

Category: Restaurant

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40 comments
Kevin
Kevin

Odd that Buzzbrews would post this, but I've always had a great experience at the Deep Ellum and Lemmon locations.  The owner himself has stopped by our table on several occasions to make sure we were okay.  I personally like the menu, and was happy when they added a bar with local beer taps (including Deep Ellum Brewing Company).

MG
MG

I know Brandon and he is a very good dude. There should be zero backlash coming against him or DEOM. That area of Main St. is largely dead at night, even on weekends. The event brought more people to Deep Ellum than otherwise would have come...what's so wrong about that?

I don't mind Buzzbrews. The food is fine, coffee lukewarm too often and the menu/verbiage is f'n asinine, grow up. They ripped off Cafe Brazil (one of the original owners) and have instituted a corporate-growth structure for the future. Their food for lunch and dinner is flat-out boring and ill-conceived.

The business owners should be more concerned about having a school in the neighborhood, that's bringing in kids who are dropouts and don't live in DE. Escalating rent and crime prevention.

Josh
Josh

I don't understand how shutting down Main St and encouraging people to walk around Deep Ellum is ever a bad thing. My wife and I walked down there early and the first thing I thought of was this should happen every Friday.  My only suggestion is it should run from 6/7 to Midnight or later. 

vinny
vinny

I like BuzzBrews just fine..never had a problem there except one....KEEP YOUR COFFEE HOT!!  It' s lukewarm way too often.

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

All the negative comments about BuzzBrews makes me reconsider trying this one out.  Think I'll stick to Angry Dog.  I've never had a bad meal there.

G_David
G_David

Why anyone would pay a 30% premium for average (at best) food from a glorified roach coach is beyond me. There isn`t a restaurant in Deep Ellum that I wouldn`t choose over a food truck.

todd
todd

I've never been to Buzzbrews so my comments are not geared toward or in response to them. I can totally understand why some brick and mortar guys would be upset with the food trucks' presence. Guys like Angry Dog, St. Petes, All Good, and anyone else who has survived the near death of Deep Ellum deserve our props.

So these current flavor of the month food trucks come along, and with no idea if they can or cannot sustain in the local market, we all line up to blow them. A little neighborly beahvior woulda gone a long way last Friday.  Bring a dinner receipt from a D.E. restaurant to the food truck and get something for free.  Perhaps next time. 

BUZZBREWSFTL
BUZZBREWSFTL

Buzzbrews is crap food anyway. They can't even write a menu or spell check their website. 

I dislike their food, attitude and service. I'm quite glad they think they lost business over a couple of little food trucks. I suspect though, they didn't have the business because THEY SUCK.

twinwillow
twinwillow

I think a good idea for Deep Ellum would be a Tattoo Truck on "truck nights".

Polyphonic
Polyphonic

Buzzbrews you have your panties on a little too tight, chill out and just be thankful that people even come to your place. 

Hezynicole
Hezynicole

Wow, the grammatical errors of that post give me enough reason to not try Buzzbrews...

Joshua Bridges
Joshua Bridges

I personally thought it did well for the area, the only hang up I see is the lack of communication with the ppl and businesses within the area, an maybe it would be better on a side street such as crowds...I think those two things can easily get changed and make this a good thing for the neighborhood...once a month or every few months is a good idea, just let's communicate an do it right

nsp
nsp

when was the last time we saw folks lined up in deep ellum for anything food-related? sounds like all good news to me. try some collaboration - partner up so that food truck customers can bring their food onto the alcohol-serving patios. or the food trucks could hand out drinks discount coupons for their partner restaurants. be creative and everyone will win! this is a great opportunity for the deep ellum area - let's not squander it over a little competition

Amanda
Amanda

Deep Ellum was hoppin' on Friday night. Whatever brings people to the neighborhood (as long as it's legal), we should all be for it! 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

First: This was a success, its going to be on again, and I for one welcome it! It brought people not normally from the neighborhood down to see what we have and why we love living here :)

Second: Quite a few eatries saw a massive boost in business on friday. My suggestion to the shiftless hipsters at Buzzbrews: Improve the menu. The last couple of times i've been in the food has been at best, mediocre. Spice it up and kick up the flavor a few notches. Only in Dallas would people bitch about promotion about their own neighborhood..idiots..

Lastly: A suggestion to the organizers for the next event: Increase both the real estate your using and make sure you setup organized lines, as it was a cluster-f later in the evening..

Informed Citizen
Informed Citizen

Since Buzzbrews is asking "if anyone has a comment" I'll gladly give them one in this forum. Food trucks really shouldn't be much of a concern to your business because Buzzbrews  generally serves excellent food. However, your restaurant has reputation for horrible service which I have experienced first hand. I waited nearly an hour for food at your restaurant when it was full of empty tables because three of your hipster servers were too busy talking to their friends to turn in my order. If a food truck does this customers will just walk on by. Address lingering concerns about your service and Buzzbrews will be just fine. 

Kate in Dallas
Kate in Dallas

When we arrived at 8:00, many of the trucks had run out of food and the lines for those remaining were 50 deep. It seemed that many were unprepared for the large crowds that showed. (We did manage to get one meat pie from 3 Lions that was delicious.)

Otherwise, we didn't want to stand in line for over an hour (as many told us they had done). This led to us trying out Uncle Uber's for the first time. We met the owners and they were thrilled that several people were dining late with them for the same reason we were. And the roast beef "sammich" was amazing.

The owners did say that hadn't been informed of the rally as well...maybe it was a lack of communication that led to some misunderstanding about the event. I would think local businesses would have benefitted by passing out fliers or having drink specials to bring in the crowds after the rally (or those frustrated by the lines). Maybe in the future when that communication is fixed, they will be more pleased by, and prepared for the extra business they may get from the event.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Is there a link to that Facebook update?  I don't see it on their page...

JRinDallas
JRinDallas

buzzbrews is hardly the first business to put forth the pompous argument their customer base should now and always be protected interference.

alternate buzzbrews version: enclose deep ellum, install some security checkpoints, increase Green Line trains, make it the food court for lovefield

guest
guest

i'm no grammar nazi, but not only did the folks from buzzbrews not know how to spell "restaurant", but it's also misspelled in the link to this article.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Ask Zen, 2826 Elm, and several others that were clearly slamming b/c of the event whether they liked it or not.

Evan
Evan

I didn't hear complaints about Deep Ellum Arts Fest last week, and there were certainly more food (and drink) options available then. I suppose I could agree that a Thursday night might be best in the future, but other than that, Buzzbrews can go kick rocks.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

The rising tide lifts all boats, except when it doesn't?

Would't an influx of potential customers around their stores ultimately benefit them? You know, to show the suburbanites that Deep Ellum isn't scary and stuff....

I think they are being short sighted.

And to Mr. Myers - I liked your place but you should be ashamed to call what you serve "jambalaya " in a "Cajun" restaurant....

Cory Kellerson
Cory Kellerson

The lines were so long at the Food Truck Rally that people who didn't want to wait, like my girlfriend and I, elected to got to Pepe & Mito's. Besides Monica's, there isn't much at all on that stretch of Main, so it's not like storefronts were being monopolized by the food trucks. 

We walked by Buzzbrews and they seemed to have quite a few people in there. And considering that the food there is substandard to begin with, Buzzbrews should be thankful for any spillover they received. 

Rangers100
Rangers100

Doesn't sound like you get out to Deep Ellum very often. That's too bad.

Hollene
Hollene

Buzzbrew's has a long and storied tradition of providing crap service. It boggles the mind that the place is still in business in a town that is so cutthroat competitive in its food service businesses.

I have no idea how the place is still around, and me & mine stopped patronizing them finally. With Cafe Brazil, Mecca and so many other better and better-run diners around, who needs them?

Trip
Trip

I agree with this comment completely. I like BB and I like their food but their service is quite poor. I live within walking distance and would consider them more often if I didnt think it would take an act of God to get a refill on water.

That being said, it was one of the busiest weekends I've seen down there in a long time. The waits at most eateries were ridiculous. Id say that's nothing worth complaining about from a business standpoint.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Seriously? I'm descended from many generations of Louisianans, and I love Free Man's jambalaya.

G_David
G_David

Well, seeing that I live about 8 blocks from Deep Ellum and lived on Commerce for 5 years, yeah, not too often, dumbass.  In fact, I'm on my way to The Angry Dog now.  Everything on their menu is about half the price and twice as good as anything from the several food trucks that I've sampled. 

Food trucks aren't terrible as a matter of convenience, when they roll up to an event where there aren't other options.  But to park them in a neighborhood full of restaurants is just idiocracy.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Ha.  Figures.  

Totally bogus argument by the Buzzbrews crew.  That event was awesome.  I talked to Brandon and one of the food truck operators the next day, and an event they estimated to draw 1,500 drew over 3,000.  

I would bet a lot of shekels that not one Deep Ellum business (including Buzzbrews) saw less business than their typical April Friday night.  I would also bet that the overall take for Deep Ellum businesses last Friday was substantially higher than normal.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I think its less about the Jambalaya and more about the proprietor of the establishment..

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Dude - really?  It had HOT DOG in it, not even real suasage

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Buzz usually has a busy 3rd friday night w/ their ArtLoveMagic event. Frankly, their bitching is all about naught. Try improving your menu and wait staff, then get back w/ me..

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I agree with you, two things you dont discuss in polite dinner company: Politics and Religion..

Rangers100
Rangers100

Interesting.

That's great and all, but I like my meals without the Ayn Rand/Murray Rothbard verbal circle jerks. I was 15 once too but grew out of that phase.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

We interviewed John Jay Myers on Loose Lips, he's a confirmed libertarian. Nice guy but a bit hard-headed..He's running for congress on their ticket..

Rangers100
Rangers100

Maybe so.  I love the food and the place but have been a little more leery of it since the Ron Paul Cult rallies during the GOP primaries.  Scary crew in there on those nights.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

and I watched the kitchen Nuke the rice, and saute the veggies, then add grilled chicken

Rangers100
Rangers100

It didn't when I had it.  That's hilarious though.

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