Young Professionals Zach Boyden-Holmes/Juice

A line outside the Taco Loco food truck at the corner of 5th and Walnut Friday, June 21, 2013.

Zach Boyden-Holmes/Juice A line outside the Taco Loco food truck at the corner of 5th and Walnut Friday, June 21, 2013.

What about food trucks in Des Moines?

Published on June 25th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

For our Big Idea issue, we asked readers for their ideas. More food trucks/food carts was a common answer.

Food trucks have become a popular feature in many cities, but are lacking in Des Moines. Many people want them, so why doesn’t Des Moines have them?

A large part of that is because of the city’s regulations on food trucks and carts. Trucks are required to use the same location every day, and operators must provide a restroom within 500 feet for workers and customers. And forget about the lucrative bar rush — food trucks are not allowed to operate downtown between 1:30 and 5:30 a.m.
So the money-making bar rush period is off the table.

Gusto Pizza Co. has a trailer it uses for events and catering, but Gusto co-owner Joe McConville said he would like to be doing more with it.

“Our idea was to serve pizza from it after bars close, but the city was not very conducive to that business plan,” McConville said. “You have to schedule stuff, which is why we do a lot of festivals, but it would be fun to use social media to tweet “Find us tonight at West Glen or Court Avenue.’ Unfortunately, that platform isn’t not really available in Des Moines.”

But it could be. In July city staff, including assistant city manager Matthew Anderson, are meeting to revisit the issue.

“We are going to revisit the issue and talk about how they can or
cannot work within the current city ordinance,” Anderson said. “The current ordinance on food trucks could maybe be seen as a little reactionary. They’re a trend in cities our size and bigger, and food trucks do add some vibrancy to areas.

“Des Moines is probably a bit behind the curve on that.”

Anderson said some of the concern is due to the fact that food trucks have a lower cost to start up, and brick and mortar restaurants worry about trucks and carts negatively impacting their businesses.

The July meeting won’t be open to the public, but any findings or changes proposed would have to be presented to the Des Moines City Council for approval.

At that point there would be a time for public input.


About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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