Food truck court behind University Co-op to be replaced by parking lot

Henry Hays, News Reporter

The University Co-op is forcing the food trucks behind the building to relocate by the end of October and is replacing them with a parking lot for Co-op employees.

The Co-op alerted the food trucks of the change at the end of September, giving the businesses about a month to find a new location. The lot has had five to 10 food trucks over the past several years, offering a range of different cuisine from coffee to gyros to tacos. Some students are upset the food trucks are relocating, as the businesses have become a regular stopping place for some West Campus residents.

Kristen Huffman, Co-op chief operations officer, said the Co-op leases the parking area from the University Presbyterian Church. Huffman said the Co-op currently rents out spaces for the food trucks, provides the businesses with utilities and keeps the area clean. Huffman said they decided to convert the parking lot for employee use to alleviate the lack of parking availability and to simplify business operations. 

“Our core focus is supporting students and supporting campus and running our retail operation,” Huffman said. “Operating a food truck court quite honestly is a distraction. It’s another business that we have to focus on.”

Addison Neikirk, manager of Trippy Buck Coffee, said he moved into the area last year and the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult at first to build a regular clientele. Neikirk said the company now has a consistent customer base and the move feels like completely starting over. 

Neikirk said many of the food trucks still do not know where to move due to other areas not having space or companies charging too much for rent. 

“It definitely is unfortunate for the rest of us (because) this is the only way that I make money,” Neikirk said. “If I have to move to a new spot and I have to build a new clientele again …  it can be daunting.”

Aliezen Cavazos, a radio-television-film junior, said he used to go to the area at least two to three times a week and has built a relationship with the owners of the Japanese food truck, Don Japanese Kitchen. Cavazos said he is disappointed with how the businesses seemed to be blindsided by the decision.

“These small businesses, they’re popular for a reason,” Cavazos said. “These are people with infectious smiles and they have stories to tell, and they’re all completely friendly. The lot would not be the same without any of them.”