Carlos Muela may come from a San Francisco restaurant family, but he didn't see owning a restaurant in his future. He was more interested in street food. "I'd been to Portland and saw the street-food pods there, and noticed there was nothing like that here. There's Off the Grid, but those are more like events," Muela says. "And I started hearing about the struggles the trucks were finding when they tried to park on the street. They're trapped — the city told them it would make it easier for them to open, but then they couldn't find anywhere to sell. So I decided that having a private lot is what the city — and the trucks — need."
After 11 months of securing permitting, Muela and his contractors broke ground last week on SOMA Streat Food Park, a triangular lot at 346 11th St., just across Division from Best Buy. The lot will have spots for nine trucks, shelter for up to 200 diners, lights, and permanent restrooms.
Muela says he originally envisioned the park as a seven-day-a-week home for permanently parked trucks — again, like Portland — but San Francisco truck owners told him they'd be more interested if they could work it into their rotation of regular appearances, much like the smaller Truck Stop near First and Mission streets, which hosts three trucks a day.
When construction on the SOMA Streat Food Park is finished in a couple of months, Muela envisions serving lunch and dinner shifts — the city has only permitted the park to stay open until midnight, so late-night stops aren't yet in the picture. Now Muela's in the process of reaching out to tenants. "I've got my beer truck guy lined up," he says, "and a lot of the trucks know about the project."