Espressoul Cafe (Photo by Isaac Stockton)

New food truck park ‘The Backyard’ to open near Grant Road & I-10

March 29, 2023
By Mark Whittaker
By Mark Whittaker

Off the Eatin' Path

If you’ve noticed, and if you are a fan and follower of food trucks, most roundups, meetups, and rallies usually happen on the outskirts of town. If you live in said territories, far from the central hub of Tucson, you are the fortunate ones. You’re nearby some really good food trucks parked in one area. Then you have plots of land that are closer to downtown or midtown, but the carts themselves seem to change on a wild whim. They’re also missing a website indicating who is coming, when are they there, and what kind of fare you can expect. 

Well, it’s time to turn that frustrated food truck frown upside down because a new spot for a mobile cart collective is opening on Friday, March 31 at 890 W. Grant Rd.

On the corner of Grant and Fairview, next to a carwash and across the street from where the new casino is being built is a space called The Backyard — a cozy plot that will feature seven trucks from all walks of life with diverse menus to appease the masses. The food trucks will also rotate as often as they can. 

(Photo courtesy of Sushi Kito)

The Backyard is the food-loving love child of Duane Velasquez, a military veteran that saw the space as an opportunity to bring our tight and terrific food truck community even closer. 

“Being in the military have I been stationed everywhere,” said Velasquez, a Tucson native. “My old neighborhood, when I lived here, was in really good condition growing up. But coming back, it was really sad to it see deteriorate, and it’s not the same as what it used to be. There’s a big industrial area in that neighborhood of Grant and Fairview, which is great, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of opportunity. So, the first thing that came to mind was to do a food truck setup. We’ve got a lot of warehouses, a lot of small businesses that are along the strip there on West Grant, and I could probably do a few things differently. Make food cheaper, more available, and also do some charity events like food drives for the local community. That’s how The Backyard started, with an idea like that. So, I reached out to the landlord with my idea and, I didn’t even know this, but his wife has a Venezuelan food truck as well. So, it just worked out. He’s like, this might make sense. Then he explained to me about his wife’s truck, and they’ve been looking for a place to keep it permanent. He’s a huge advocate for it.”

Outside of the Venezuelan concept, there will also be Dre’s Seafood and BBQ, Sushi Kito, Viva Burrito, Palomino’s, 420 Tacos, and the fresh-from-visiting-Europe-to-make-the-incredible-coffee-on-wheels, Espressoul Café on the grand opening this Friday. 

But, all this will change! If 420 Tacos has an event they need to tend to, then Valenzuela will find a new truck to take its place — vice versa, and so on and so on. He wants to keep it fresh each week and as often as he can. Thing is, Valenzuela has the notion to always have seven trucks parked there at all times. No more, no less.

Why is that? 

“Well, my next thing was alright, let’s see if we can get interest from food trucks. And let me tell you, that response was huge,” Velasquez chuckled. “I think I got 27 food trucks that wanted to be a part of this when I put it all out there. But I wanted to keep it small and quaint. So, I’m only doing seven. Actually, one of the food truck vendors told me, ‘hey, it’s like the Seven Wonders of the World.’ You know what, I’m going to use that. That’s kind of our theme, the Seven Wonders of the Tucson Food Truck World. Then, I came up with the name The Backyard because every place needs a name, right? I figured The Backyard sounds pretty cool because that’s what this was at one point — my backyard.”

Seating at The Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Breakfast will begin at the sharp time of 6 a.m., so for you early birds having to get on the I-10 at that hour of the sun poking its way up, you can pull over, grab a bite, and a cup, and be on your way. Lunch and dinner service begins at 11 a.m. and will run till about 7 p.m. 

Also, you won’t have to worry about enjoying the delicious Mexican fare, sushi, creative coffee drinks, and savory barbeque sitting on the pavement or a parking block. There will be plenty of tables and chairs set up for your convenience. 

Seating at The Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

When it starts to get dark, The Backyard will be illuminated with lights strung and hung all over. We will all most likely see each other on a fairly regular basis because all of these food trucks are, finally, in our own backyard.

“We have seven unique trucks, seven different genres of food, on a busy corner that is veteran-owned and operated,” said Velasquez. “We have events planned along with food drives in the works, which I’m pretty sure is unique for a food truck organization such as ours. Our goal is to ultimately support the local community there and do some stuff that will improve that area of town. That’s going to be our ultimate theme — community. It all started with an idea, then with the truck owners, and then we’ll build it up to maybe expanding to a second location. Let’s just see how the grand opening goes!”  

The Backyard is located at 890 W. Grant Rd. and is opening on Friday, March 31. For more information, follow The Backyard on Instagram.

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Article By

Mark Whittaker began his journalism career in San Francisco around 1997. It was for a small Northern California music magazine that segued into contributing to numerous magazines, websites, newspapers and weeklies throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Mark interviewed bands,...

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