Queen City Food Park Serves Up New Options
A half-acre expressway spot between Vermont and Texas avenues was paved, developed, and ready with four food trucks and picnic tables in the midst of the grounds as Mercedes Mayor Oscar Montoya spoke of what it took to get to the Saturday morning event.
“I want to thank the Gonzalez family for investing in Mercedes,’’ Mayor Montoya said as Ashley and Roy Gonzalez stood among those gathered for the April 2 grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Queen City Food Park. “It’s not only their investment but their tenacity and the vision they had for this project.’’
It was over a year in the making with a pandemic causing delays but never a concession to give up on a project that Ashley and Roy wanted for their hometown. Local government and the Mercedes Economic Development Corporation assisted with logistics and resources. Their determination to see it through did the rest.
“I thought I’d know how it would look after all of the work we put into it, but seeing everyone here and it happening right in front of me, it’s emotional,’’ Ashley Gonzalez said of the food park located at 350 N. Virginia.
It was memorable as well for the owners of Casa de Hibachi, Gaddi’s Snow Shack, Queen City Daiquiris, and the RGV Crawfish Shack, the four food trucks that got the Queen City Food Park started, with more to come. The turnout for the first night, a breezy Friday spring evening, reported sell outs at some of the food trucks as local residents enjoyed the new addition to their new community. Saturday was shaping up to be a great first full weekend day at the Queen City.
What makes even more special is that every food truck owner is a Mercedes native and committed to not only to business success but giving back to their community with the new venture.
“We want to bring new flavors from the big city to our town,’’ said Joe Garcia, who is co-owner of Casa de Hibachi with Ray Cano. “All of us working together, doing our small part, we’re benefitting the community.’’
Giving Back To Their Community
Gaddi Rodriguez’s day job is working as an accountant.
His “passion project,’’ as he puts it, is his snow shack. Living in West Texas, Rodriguez and his wife, Sarai, decided in recent years to head back home. He is going back to childhood memories with Gaddi’s Snow Shack, giving a modern-day twist to the raspa business his grandmother had during his youth.
“We love the small-town feel,’’ Rodriguez said of being in the food park. “I feel like what we’re doing here is giving the community some options it didn’t have.’’
Queen City Food Park is Mercedes-oriented, but its location lends itself to traffic from adjoining communities and those travelling to-and-fro across the Rio Grande Valley.
“If you’re going east or west on the expressway, we’re right in the middle of the Valley,’’ Garcia said. “This is a place where everyone can meet up if they’re looking for an outside vibe.’’
Being a place to meet and having a family friendly feel is what Ashley Gonzalez was after when imagining what the Mercedes food park would be. The goal appeared to be met at the grand opening with young children tagging along with their parents and enjoying freshly made food and tasty snow cones. There is a designated cornhole playing area that is sure to be a popular spot. A father and son were already making some early bean bag tosses at the raised platform.
“This is what we wanted, a place for our community to get together,’’ she said. “And now here it is, a spot in the middle of Mercedes.’’
Early reviews were positive, with Kendrick Robinson stating his views on the food park’s Facebook page.
“It was an awesome time,’’ Robinson said. “I had a blast.’’
The Queen City Food Park is open Tuesday-through-Thursday, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays, the closing time is extended to 11 p.m.
Ricardo D. Cavazos