Springfield, MO: Another Traveling Taco is Being Planned

Coworkers Kristy Atkinson (from left), Melinda Harter, and Erin Davidson pick up lunch at The Traveling Taco on Thursday. Valerie Mosley / News-Leader

By  | New-Leader.com

Coworkers Kristy Atkinson (from left), Melinda Harter, and Erin Davidson pick up lunch at The Traveling Taco on Thursday. Valerie Mosley / News-Leader

Turnbulls hope their future, second truck will be seen near downtown.

The Traveling Taco’s first year in business has been so successful that Rick and Charlotte Turnbull are planning to add a second portable taco stand in Springfield.

Located at the corner of Sunshine Street and Fremont Avenue, the Traveling Taco has become a quick place for Springfieldians to stop and grab one of the Turnbull’s signature 8-inch fried tacos for $4.

And a good word from an anonymous Traveling Taco customer also might land the Turnbulls’ trailer in the Food Channel’s “Great Food Truck Race.”

“One of our customers nominated us for the show, but no one’s come forward to say it was them,” Rick Turnbull said.

“Because of all the hoopla about us being nominated for the show, we’ve been so busy we’ve had to hire extra help.”

Turnbull said he and his wife won’t know if The Traveling Taco is one of the eight show contestants for the next “Great Food Truck Race” until the show’s finale on Sept. 25.

The show pits eight food trucks in a cross-country competition to see whose truck can survive various challenges most successfully.

“Win or lose, it would be awesome to be on it,” Turnbull said.

Fans have been voting for their favorite food trucks for weeks. Turnbull said he tried to find out where his Traveling Taco truck stood, but voting had already closed.

Now it’s a matter of waiting for the current show’s finale.

The Traveling Taco got its start on Sept. 1, 2010, after Turnbull said he got tired of “repo-ing cars and delivering pizza.”

His wife had been in the restaurant business for years, and it was her knowledge of recipes — and health code requirements — that sparked the idea for a movable taco trailer.

“She knows what she’s doing and she’s a great cook,” Turnbull said. “We sold the house and got this trailer. We did recipes and taste tests, and it just all came together.”

The Traveling Taco is the Turnbulls’ full-time job now.

They stay in one spot during the week, but frequently pull the trailer to community festivals and events on the weekends.

One thing they’ve discovered after a year in business: Their 16-foot trailer is too small.

“The next one we get will be 20 feet long and eight feet wide,” he said. “We’ll be ordering it real soon and plan to have it ready by next spring.”

Downtown next?

Turnbull said he hoped to put a second Traveling Taco near Missouri State University, at the corner of Elm Street and Kimbrough Avenue.

He gave his current taco stand a test run at the site, but had to move after learning the downtown Center City District allows push-cart food vendors, but not mobile food trailers like his.

Assistant City Manager Fred Marty said city staff is working on a proposed change to those rules that might accommodate a mobile food trailer downtown or in the Commercial Street area.

“We hope to have a first draft within the next 15 to 30 days,” Marty said.

The city Planning and Zoning Commission would consider the changes.

Ultimately the issue could land before the City Council, possibly in time for the Turnbulls to unveil their newest Traveling Taco.