Harlingen food truck park to open in business district

HARLINGEN — The Moon Rock has landed its launch pad.

The city’s first food truck park — The Moon Rock Food Truck Bar & Grill — is set to open in September in a business district in the 1800 block of West Jefferson Avenue.

From that area, owner Christian Zanca is also working to open a restaurant featuring a brewery and distillery as part of his plans to develop an entertainment district within a couple of years.

Earlier this month, city commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance granting Zanca a special use permit allowing him to open the food truck park featuring 10 food trucks along with an open-air bar and grill staging live music.

After city officials mailed notices to property owners within 200 feet of the site, Zanca’s proposal drew no opposition before the city’s Planning and Zoning commission approved his plans last month.

For weeks, Zanca’s worked to close the purchase of his 2.5-acre site stretching about 155 feet along West Jefferson, where the vacant warehouse property opens 560 feet in depth.

“I think we can make it really cool and really unique,” Zanca said Monday. “It’s an industrial look. We’re going to play on that industrial look and make it look futuristic and fun. I want it to feel like you’re on Mars but in the Valley.”

City sets occupancy based on parking spaces

As part of the special use permit, officials are capping the food truck park’s customer capacity at 416 based on its 74 onsite parking spaces and 45 off-site slots.

“I’ve never heard of an outdoor venue having a capacity like that,” Zanca, co-owner of a Brownsville food truck park, said.

Zanca said he wants to expand the food truck park’s capacity to 1,000.

“It’s smooth sailing from here — except capacity and parking,” he said.

Now, he’s talking to nearby businesses, asking them to let him use some of their parking spaces.

“There’s just a parking issue,” he said. “We’re trying to find some folks to talk with us.”

Zanca’s got big plans for the area.

After opening his food truck park, he plans to work to develop the city’s first entertainment district, he said.

“I’m planning a brewery and distillery, and I’d like to do it in that area,” he said. “It would be like a restaurant — brewery, food truck bar and grill going on at the same time. I’d like to get some properties nearby to create an entertainment district. There’s certainly area around that area ready to develop. In a couple of years I’d like to do that.”

Permit sets conditions

Under the permit’s conditions, officials are requiring the food truck park to comply with the city’s noise regulations while operating video surveillance.

For now, the food truck park will open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Music line-up

Patrons enjoy live music at the Broken Sprocket, a Brownsville food truck park that developer Christian Zanca is modeling his new Harlingen food truck park after, in this undated courtesy photo. (Courtesy photo)

As part of his business plan, Zanca said he’ll open a full bar serving liquor, beer and wine while modeling the food truck park after the Broken Sprocket, the food truck park he co-owns in Brownsville.

On Wednesdays, he plans to set up his stage for karaoke music, focusing the entertainment around the Broken Sprocket’s popular disc jockey.

“It’s been a really big hit for us in Brownsville,” he said. “We’ve got a great karaoke DJ.”

On Thursdays, he’s planning to stage live country music before featuring two bands playing genres such as classic rock on Fridays and Saturdays.

“There are a lot of good bands in the Valley — they’ll all awesome,” he said. “I’m going to bring people down from Nashville, Houston and Austin. I’m trying to get variety so you don’t have to go to Austin and San Antonio to listen to them — and it’s free.”

Business model

For Zanca, young families are his target audience.

For months, he’s been honing his business plan around the Broken Sprocket.

At the Moon Rock, he plans to feature 10 food trucks, each dishing out distinct menus prepared by chefs “proud” to cook up their gourmet food truck grub, he said.

Off Paredes Line Road, the two-acre Broken Sprocket features “a hip outdoor beer and wine garden and live music stage.”

Inside the park’s walls, brightly detailed food trucks surround a courtyard where strings of lights hover over canopy-covered tables and park benches.

As part of his plans, Zanca’s moving his own food truck to his new site.

The food truck he’s named The Melt specializes in “gourmet grilled cheeses” and “other melty goodness,” including entrees like his chicken strip melt and bacon brie, his tomato basil broccoli cheese soup and appetizers like The Melt Queso.

The new food truck park will also feature sand volleyball courts and even a dog park.

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