DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At Cocina Italiano in Dallas, you’ll find Big Tex on the wall and some of his favorite foods frying in the kitchen.
“This is what we do in October. So we’re gonna go ahead and do it one way or another,” said Abel Gonzales.
Gonzales holds the record for the most Big Tex Choice Awards, an honor given to food vendors at the State Fair of Texas for the best-tasting or most-creative new offering.
There’s no State Fair this year, though, so…
“The little light bulb goes on in my brain, and I’m like, why don’t we just do fair food here?” he said.
Gonzales has added items to his regular menu that might surprise someone coming for the classic Italian fare his restaurant normally serves.
You’ll find fried PB&J sandwiches, fried Oreos, fried cookie dough, and other treats familiar to fair fans.
If it’s a corn dog you’re craving, you can find the famous Fletcher’s corny dogs around North Texas.
Not only is the company holding pop up events, it’s teamed up with Golden Chick to sell its corn dogs at all the restaurants’ locations.
State Fair food vendors are also forming mutually beneficial partnerships with local breweries.
Oak Highlands Brewery has drawn business with its Fair Food Sunday, when it invites vendors to sell their food at its location in northeast Dallas.
3 Nations Brewing brought on a former Big Tex Choice winner, Tom Grace, to offer food on-site. It’s added an outdoor tent for him and is considering making his business a permanent fixture.
“Everyone’s struggling right now,” said Derrin Williams, co-owner of Oak Highlands Brewery
The arrangements help the breweries, who can count the food revenue as their own in order to meet new state guidelines created during the pandemic.
“Fifty-one percent of our sales have to come from something other than alcohol for us to be open,” said Williams.
The business being generated doesn’t make up for what any of the vendors have lost this year, but it does help keep them going.
“I’m happy,” said Gonzales. “I’m happy we’re out here selling. I’m happy people are enjoying our food.”