Mobile Food Units

Food TrailerMobile food vending is a popular entry point for many food business entrepreneurs who want to enter the food service industry. If you own a restaurant, catering business, food-manufacturing business, or participate in farmers markets and temporary events, this can also serve as a way to expand your operations and create another revenue stream.

A mobile food unit is a vehicle-mounted food service establishment or a food establishment pulled behind a vehicle to be readily moveable. Push carts are also considered mobile food units. Mobile food units operating in North Richland Hills must obtain a NRH mobile food unit permit prior to operating. 

North Richland Hills does not permit open-sided trailers as mobile food units. A mobile food unit must be enclosed, and openings must be insect proof (i.e. sliding glass, 16 mesh per square foot screening, etc.). Other equipment is required depending on the type of food service offered. See the Texas Food Establishment Rules and the NRH Mobile Food Unit (MFU) Ordinance #3639 for more information. You may also find this Equipment Checklist useful. Contact NRH Consumer Health at 817-427-6650 or consumerhealth@nrhtx.com if you have any questions about equipment requirements. 

Mobile food units must operate from a commercial, permitted, inspected and approved commissary. The commissary must provide potable water for the mobile food unit, a place to properly dispose of wastewater, a commercial kitchen for the preparation of most foods and utensil washing, and storage space for food and utensils. A residence must not be used as a commissary, and no home-prepared foods are allowed. 

The City of North Richland Hills passed a new Mobile Food Unit (MFU) Ordinance #3689 in April 2021. See below for more information on obtaining a permit and rules for operating in North Richland Hills.

Inside Mobile Food Unit

Photo: Inside a Permitted Mobile Food Unit


 PERMITTING PROCESS 

  1. Submit the mobile food unit application and all required documentation to Consumer Health
  2.  Schedule joint Consumer Health and Fire Department inspection of the Mobile Food Unit
    • Contact Consumer Health at 817-427-6650 or consumerhealth@nrhtx.com to schedule inspection
    • Inspections held at 6801 Glenview Drive, North Richland Hills, TX 76180 
    • Tuesdays from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. by appointment only after application and forms are complete 
    • Refrigeration and hot water must be functional and at appropriate temperatures before the mobile food unit inspection. Arrive early if necessary to ensure that all equipment is in good working order before your inspection time. 
  3. Pay annual permit fee of $250 via mail or by visiting Neighborhood Services, First Floor City Hall, 4301 City Point Dr, North Richland Hills, 76180. Mobile Food Unit Permit is valid for 12 months from date of issuance. 
  4. Permit will be issued after all requirements are met and any Fire/Health inspection items are resolved.


LOCATIONS WHERE MOBILE FOOD UNITS MAY OPERATE:

  • Notarized permission to operate required from property owner for each location
  • Mobile Food Unit must be removed from the property nightly 
  • Noise levels must not violate the NRH Nuisance Ordinance
  • Rules vary based on NRH Zoning Classification
    • Commercial or Industrial Zoned Properties 
      • Only allowed at locations where alcohol consumption is not specifically prohibited by law
      • During business operating hours only; 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. is the maximum allowed time frame 
    •  Residential Zoned Properties 
      • Up to twice annually for private parties, block parties, etc. 
      • 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. is the maximum allowed time frame
      • NRH Solicitor’s Permit required for trucks that sell door-to-door in residential neighborhoods
    •  Mixed Use/Transit Oriented Development 
      • During business operating hours; 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. maximum allowed time frame 
      • May only operate up to three hours in a street parking spot 
    • Special Events 
      • In conjunction with permitted Community Special Events, including City of NRH events 

 

IN ADDITION: 

  • Only one Mobile Food Unit may set up per location (one per 300 feet) 
  • Pushcarts are now permitted as a Mobile Food Unit 
  • Mobile Food Units must be readily movable and comply with all NRH laws and ordinances 
  • Compliance with Texas Food Establishment Rules and NRH Ordinance #3689 required 
  • No home-prepared foods allowed
  • Trash must be controlled 
  • Operations must cease if an imminent hazard exists (fire, flood, foodborne illness, loss of power/water/equipment for temperature control, etc.) 
  • Health inspections at every event are no longer required by NRH Ordinance. However, operators should be prepared for inspection at all times. MFUs are subject to inspection every time they are in North Richland Hills city limits. 
  • Operators must be prepared for unscheduled inspections at all times when operating in NRH
  • Ordinance #3689 expires April 30, 2023 


Questions about the above? Call 817-427-6650 and ask to speak with an Environmental Health Specialist or email consumerhealth@nrhtx.com