There are now two food providers in Royse City that are unhappy with the city administration. Harry Cole, who operates La Tamales on Industrial Drive, feels betrayed by city officials whom he says he looked to for guidance in setting up his small stand outside warehouse businesses on Royse City’s eastern edge.

His small shop sits just inside Rockwall County, and the small road immediately behind his shop is the county line. From where he sits he can serve food to the truckers whocome and go while loading and unloading at the industrial businesses located in the park.

He sells tamales and was denied a conditional use permit to begin serving burgers and fries as well.

Since the controversy surrounding his application for a permit broke out, Harry says that he is surprised by some of the statements he read in regard to his business.

The biggest surprise was the suggestion that he didn’t cook his own tamales on-site.

"John (Ward) knows that that is erroneous," Harry asserts. "He knows for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt. If he said that, if he said those words, then he is in error. He’s strictly in error. I hope that that statement there didn’t influence the vote in which it turned out."

Harry is also concerned after he had assured his customers that he made the tamales himself, and he does so in the small building that serves as his kitchen.

"We make ‘em right here," Harry asserted.

Harry is also surprised that his wanting to expand his offerings came as a surprise to anyone.

"When I went before the planning and zoning commission to talk to them about this place out here, I told them that I wanted a place where I could make and sell tamales," He said. "And once I got that started — this is what I said — I would like to go to the different businesses out here and see what they wanted me to cook.

"And Spencer (Pattison) jumped up and said ‘Absolutely not. We’re voting on whether you can make tamales and sell them and no other food.’ And I said, ‘That’s not what I understood when I was talking to John Ward.’ And they said ‘Well, that’s what we’re going to vote on’ and everything. I said, ‘That’s fine and everything, but I want to tell ya’ll now that there’s other things I want to do. So after they voted unanimously to approve it I went to John Ward and asked him what I had to do to do all this."

The steps taken included installing a 90-pound grease trap that had to be re-installed once and refitted for plumbing an additional time, costing hundreds of extra dollars according to Harry. They also installed a three-bay sink and a larger mop rinsing station than Harry thinks he’ll ever need.

"It was facts and fairness against emotions and feelings, and the latter won out," Harry said of the city council meeting in which he was denied a conditional use permit to sell hamburgers. The vote was 4-3, and the Harry and his wife still don’t understand where they went wrong in the process.

"Sandra and I went step by step, inspection, inspection, by all the departments," Harry said. "From the Fire ... every one of them, right down the line. When it all ended up, every inspector, every member of the city, Larry Lott the Economic Development person, the city manager, the mayor, two city councilmen; all of those people said ‘OK. You have everything. You passed it. All these people recommended you.’ That’s said and done, but now that they’ve rejected me, who in the city do I go to to say, ‘What do I have to do to be in compliance’?

"Because I asked that question, and about $12,000 later I was rejected. Do you think that a businessman who is really conscientious would then turn around and do anything else? Spend any more money? Because I followed every procedure. Everybody in the city — all of them — said ‘approval.’

"These four people said ‘no’."

Harry said he’d like to hear from the four council members who voted against him, he wants to simply know, "Why?"

Sandra chimed in with her own thought, "And since we already have been approved, where do we go to get another approval?"

She also thinks that the council lost sight of a sense of scale when considering their business.

"We’re an F-150. We’re not an 18-wheeler," she quipped. "Our requirements are totally different to other restaurants."

The Coles point out that on their best day so far (they’re only open for three hours a day) they sold 12 hamburgers.

"For somebody to say — that’s got a big place — that that George Foreman grill that holds three frozen patties ... and that Sunbeam electric deal that holds 16 ounces worth of French fries is somebody’s competition?" Harry said.

Sandra stated very clearly that if someone had simply pointed out to them that they would be required to purchase a $30,000 ventilation hood or anything of the like, they would simply have called off the whole thing from the beginning.

On the good side, the Coles say that they have gotten numerous calls of support from other local restaurant owners. Harry also noted that Jason Burton, who had raised concerns about the requirements in a city council workshop, followed him out of the city council meeting and apologized for raising criticism. Harry said Burton told him he had been confused about exactly which restaurant was being discussed and what the scale of his operation actually was.

There are approximately 100 truck deliveries that make their way past the Coles’ small shack every business day. While he faces competition for the truckers’ and warehouse workers’ business from mobile catering trucks that come in from outside Royse City, he believes that he could make a go of his business if allowed to simply operate.

"Nobody can make a hamburger like one of ours," Harry said with pride. Since the temporary permit they have been operating under has been revoked with the council’s denial of the C.U.P., they’ve crossed out the burgers part of their "Burgers — Tamales" sign in front of their small shed.


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