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Organizers say a food truck court and farmers market plans to open next month in the Shoppes at Branson Meadows.
Photo provided by Meadows Images
Organizers say a food truck court and farmers market plans to open next month in the Shoppes at Branson Meadows.

First food truck court in Branson set to open in June

The $28,000 venture also includes a farmers market

Posted online

Nearly four years after Branson city officials approved the permitting of food truck courts, the first is set to make its debut next month.

Organizers of the Food Truck Court at the Meadows are aiming to open June 14. That’s pending final approval by the city on utility hookups at the venture’s site in the Shoppes at Branson Meadows, said Bob Nichols, president of the Branson Academy for the Advancement of Music and Theatre, a nonprofit organization located in the shopping center. Nichols was the applicant for a special use permit unanimously approved by the city’s Planning Commission on April 6.

The food truck court at the Gretna Road shopping mall is allowed up to 12 mobile eateries but will likely open with four, Nichols said. He declined to identify the operators as contracts are not yet signed, but indicated tacos, barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs and shaved ice are planned to be among foods offered.

“It’s a very popular concept to bring multiple food options together in a food truck court,” he said. “I like the idea of a food truck court at the mall, only outside.”

Food trucks won’t be the only addition this summer for the Shoppes at Branson Meadows. Farmers Market at the Meadows will open in tandem with the food truck court, Nichols said. The market is slated to operate Tuesdays and Saturdays. Both are scheduled to be open through October.

“Farmers markets and food truck courts work very well hand-in-hand, so we’re excited to put these two together,” he said.

Seasonal vendor fees for the farmers market are $250 for farm and produce and $350 for retail, Nichols said. Daily rates of $30 also are offered. Six vendors are on board with more expected in the next couple of weeks, he said.

North of Branson, Springfield has a mix of vendors and food trucks at venues such as Farmers Market of the Ozarks and Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market. Metro Eats, an 11-acre development mixing food trucks and a multiday farmers market in west Springfield, is expected to open soon, according to past reporting.

Taking the step
Nichols said the venture was spawned earlier this year as a fundraising idea at a board meeting for BAAMT, which was started in September 2020. The nonprofit, which received 501(c)(3) certification in January, advocates and markets for Branson’s music and theater industry. Nichols is the lone employee for the organization, which is self-funded. The nonprofit currently is seeking public funds and grants, he said, declining to disclose its annual budget.

“Mostly, our industry members have funded us to this point,” he said, noting 39 shows and 14 theaters currently pay $500 apiece in annual membership dues.

Revenue from the venture will fund the nonprofit’s operations, Nichols said, noting first-year revenue estimates are not yet established.

Nichols said the food truck court investment is estimated at roughly $28,000. The project had some savings as the center court area where the food trucks will be located already was  built into the mall parking lot, he said.

“All we really needed to do was bring the trucks. It definitely diminished the cost of infrastructure in putting in a food truck court,” he said. “That was a big attractor to this lot – the fact they already had this beautiful grassy, shady court right in the middle of all this parking, along with public restrooms and close utilities. It lends itself to it.”

Joel Hornickel, Branson’s director of planning and development, said food trucks and food truck courts have been allowed in the city since 2017. Food trucks require a temporary use permit, reviewed and issued annually by city staff. However, those organizing a food truck court must apply for a special use permit, which is reviewed and issued by the city’s Planning Commission. The city defines a food truck court as at least four and no more than 12 food trucks operating together on a single property.

“We’ve talked with a handful of folks over the years about potentially doing a food truck court, but no one has ever pulled the trigger on this, so to speak, to actually submit a request for one,” he said.

The city’s current food truck count of 15 is consistent with the total since 2017, he said.

Hornickel said Nichols brought the request forward as an opportunity to attract tourists and Branson residents. The Gretna Road location should be a beneficial draw for both, he said.

“We’re near the corner of several main roads: Highway 248, Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, Gretna Road, which are heavily traveled, not just by tourists but locals as well,” Nichols said, noting lunch and dinnertime traffic is frequently busy in the area. “We thought the location would lend itself to all the office complexes and retailers up and down through here.”

Beyond fall
While the food truck court is on the schedule into the fall, organizers believe the venture could extend through year’s end.

“While we’re running it, we’ll be discussing with our vendors the opportunity to do a November and December food truck court as well,” Nichols said. “The Christmas season in November and December is a very busy time down here.”

Nichols said he visits food truck courts when he travels and believes Branson is ready for one of its own. It may only start with four on-site by opening day, but he expects interest will quickly grow.

“I feel like we could have a court larger than just the 12 trucks once we get to that point with the infrastructure,” he said. “But at this time, the city does have it limited to 12.”

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