Fixed location unit/Food Carts:
If a unit does not meet the requirements to be classified as a conventional unit (enclosed, 30 gallon water tank, big sinks etc.) it may still receive a medallion (mobile unit permit) if it meets a specific alternate set of requirements and conditions.
To summarize those requirements and conditions:
- Cart must be no bigger than 8 feet long x 4 feet wide x 8 feet high.
- Must be movable by one person when fully loaded.
- May operate only at one location for the life of the permit/medallion.
- That location must be a food establishment with a 3-compartment sink, a hand sink, and a cleaning area/mop sink and an active Food Permit, that serves as a unit’s commissary.
- The cart must be stored inside the cleaning area. (Cart must pass into building and into cleaning area.
- Unless all food served is pre-packaged and labeled at an approved commissary, the cart must have a 2- or 3-compartment sink (big enough to immerse the largest utensil on unit) and a separate hand sink. (see plans checklist for fixed location units)
Find a location before buying cart.
Submit plans and obtain approval before building or buying a cart.
No propane/cooking gas allowed downtown, in medical center or indoors (malls, office building lobbies, etc.)
Not all types of food preparation are allowed on a food cart. (Chopping onions on a cutting board on top of unit, for example. You would want to purchase chopped onions instead.)
A licensed park vendor operates at one park owned by the City of Houston.
The requirements for the cart itself are the same as for fixed location units.
A licensed park vendor may have a commissary that is not at the park (see commissary list), but must store the unit at the commissary.
Click here to view Food Ordinance Requirements specific to this type of unit.
Steps to Opening a Fixed Location or Park Vendor Unit (Food Carts, including hot dog carts)
1. Unless cart already has a Houston medallion from a previous owner, or serves only pre-packaged foods, submit 2 sets of plans to 8000 N Stadium Dr. Include all required parts and information listed on the plans checklist. $35 fee.
Click here for plans checklist for fixed location and park vendor units
2. Make appointment for inspection of commissary, (unless park vendor). Call 832-393-4445 or 832-393-5100. It is suggested you make sure proposed unit can pass into proposed commissary’s cleaning area before requesting the inspection ($110 inspection charge per visit). Park Vendors: You may have an off-site commissary from the list. Click here for commissary list.
3. Purchase or Construct Cart according to approved plans. Make sure unit is ready for inspection, including a full water tank. If unit uses propane, have unit inspected at an approved gas company and pay for LP Gas permit at 1002 Washington, 77002. LP Gas permit office phone: (832) 394-9083
Click here for list of approved propane companies
Take unit to 7411 Park Place for inspection and pay for medallion.
State Sales Tax Permit
Commissary letter (If no plans were required or if Park Vendor)
$655 for medallion and the pre-opening inspection. (Pay with money order and cashier’s check.)
Money Order for $16.50 for water sample
Note: For any changes to fees or regulations, see home page (Mobile Food Unit News)
Inspection times are 7am-10am, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For a summary of requirements related to the daily operation of your unit,
(Print any that apply)
Plans check-list for fixed location units
State Sales Tax Permit Information
Approved gas equipment inspection companies (if propane)
List of approved commissaries (if park vendor)