Since June 2011, The Hitch has been a meeting place where San Martians could come together to enjoy a variety of new and creative foods. In a time when the cost to open a restaurant requires an amount of capital that has become insurmountable for many, a common thread amongst the more than 20 food vendors we’ve had over the past seven years has been a sense of boot-strapped entrepreneurship. The prospect of a food trailer allowed many of our hard-working vendors to realize the dream of business ownership and allowed you all to enjoy their delicious cuisines. For that, we’re all thankful.
The Hitch has also been proud to be a part of the community in many other ways. It has been home to Art Unhitched (now Art Squared), a venue for MR Fest, and a sponsor of many of the wonderful events in nearby Plaza Park such as Sights and Sounds, Movies in Your Park, Summer in the Park, Relay for Life, the 72 Degrees Festival, the Mermaid Society’s Aqua Faire and many other events. We even had a merry-go-round for a few weeks back in 2012!
Sadly, over the past few months, one-by-one each of our current vendors have had to make the hard decision to permanently close or relocate outside of San Marcos. While there is a unique set of factors for each circumstance, a common thread has been uncertainty regarding their ability to continue to obtain a permit to operate from the City’s Health Department. Since March of this year, new Health Department staff has materially changed the rules for vendors to obtain or renew their Mobile Food Establishment permits and is insisting on requirements that food trailers do not find feasible. Despite many requests for a public process and Council engagement, none has occurred to date and the veil of uncertainty around the regulations presents a business risk most trailers are not able to take. Further, the new requirements have also made it impractical for new trailers that have wanted to join The Hitch to embark on the permitting process.
We think the culture of food trailers in San Marcos is something worth keeping. If you agree, please drop a note to the City Manager’s office or reach out to Council and ask that they codify a reasonable ordinance that allows Mobile Food Establishments to operate at places like The Hitch and not leave things up to varied staff interpretation. Tell them you want a community where the smallest of small businesses are supported. While The Hitch is unlikely to reopen, there remains at least one park on Guadalupe Street and those vendors deserve your support, as do future vendors that would love the opportunity to bring their food to you in the future.
We’ll start thinking about what’s next for this location, but we don’t yet know what that will be. In the meantime, there are some parking spaces available for monthly rental, principally intended to provide options for the employees of downtown businesses. Those are available via the ParqEx app. Most importantly, the property will continue to be home to the Tuesday San Marcos Farmers' Market and we hope you’ll continue to support them each Tuesday from 3 - 6 p.m.
A major thank you to the team at Bobcat Promotions who has done an incredible job running promotions and social media for The Hitch for many years. If you have a business and need help, they’ve been a great partner for us and our vendors.
In closing, please join me in thanking the Big Kahuna, Bobby Hotdogs, Cafe Azteca, Dreamland, El Sabor de Me Tierra, Hot Diggity, How Sweet It Is (Sugar Shack), MamboFreeze, Mr. Bigotes, Oh My Pizza Pie, Patty Wagon, Redbud Roasters, Say Cheese, Smoked Out BBQ (new concept coming soon), Smokin’ Aces, St. Pita’s, SUP Adventures San Marcos, The Caboose, The Tin Box, WANderLust, and WAT ZAB. Please click on the links provided to find the new locations of vendors that continue to operate either in brick and mortar or in other nearby areas outside the City.
Also, WANderLust remains open until further notice but expects to close by the end of November. So rush out and get your WANderLust fix quick. Then, look for them in Austin at the beginning of 2018.
From all of us at The Hitch, thank you, Hitchers!