A City Council committee considering new regulations for Baltimore’s growing food truck industry plans to hold work sessions as members evaluate more than 50 proposed amendments.
Councilman James B. Kraft, chairman of the committee, said he’s been inundated with letters as major parts of the legislation remain undecided. During a meeting Tuesday on the legislation, Kraft told a crowd of vendors that he received a pro-food truck petition with 700 signatures from across the country. He said he plans to throw the document in the trash.
“It’s absurd,” Kraft said, noting that many of those weighing in weren’t from Baltimore. “Call the people off. It’s wasting our time. It’s wasting their time.”
The Rawlings-Blake administration has proposed setting up zones for the food trucks, which sell hamburgers, tacos, cupcakes and other items. The legislation was written to encourage the vendors while also limiting where they operate to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants.
But some truck operators have expressed concern that the limits would hurt their business, and the city’s proposal has been in flux. A city official said Monday that the administration plans to ask the council to allow trucks to operate outside the zones.
Some truck owners have criticized the plan as vague. They point out that the city has not established where the zones will be and has not released the rules of a proposed lottery to determine which trucks can go where.
Kraft and Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said Tuesday that they want the administration to establish the zones before the council votes on a bill.
“Could you start figuring out where the zones are going to go?” Clarke asked.
Rawlings-Blake spokesman Kevin R. Harris said the administration has worked collaboratively on the legislation and that the new rules would be subject to a public comment and review period.
The legislation is the city’s effort to adopt comprehensive regulations for the industry, which has operated under temporary rules since 2011. Under those rules, the trucks can operate throughout the city. They are prohibited only from selling within 300 feet of an existing restaurant.
Kraft said dates for the work sessions have not been set. In the meantime, Kraft asked food truck operators to “build a better relationship” with restaurants in their area.
In January, the Baltimore County Council passed rules barring food trucks within 200 feet of brick-and-mortar restaurants. The county has set up food truck parking zones near the County Courts Building in Towson and Towson University.
The owners and patrons of Jacksonville’s food trucks have been speaking out this week following proposed city legislation some say would make operating the mobile eateries impossible.
Food trucks have become more and more popular around the country in recent years, including on the First Coast. At the same time, owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants say the mobile trucks are siphoning business away from their establishments.
Proposed new legislation to regulate food trucks in Jacksonville drew a large crowd to a public meeting on the matter yesterday.
Supporters of Councilman Reggie Brown’s bill saying more controls are needed, while opponents see the legislation as a heavy-handed attempt to quash free enterprise.
Terry Lorince, executive director of Jacksonville business organization Downtown Vision, Inc., and Dale Stoudt, co-owner of Jacksonville-based Super Food Truck, joined Melissa Ross to discuss the legislation and the city’s food truck scene.
“I think a lot of the outcry simply came from the fact that we had draft legislation that was created without input from anybody who owned a food truck, and obviously nobody knew what a food truck was when they wrote the legislation,” Stoudt said.
Stoudt said during discussion with city officials and residents at Wednesday’s meeting, he realized that people did not understand the food truck concept or how they operate.
“The more we talked yesterday, we found out that they didn’t know that we had health inspections or licenses or $1 million in insurance policies,” he said.
Stoudt outlined measures in the draft legislation he said would make it impossible for food trucks to succeed in the city, namely restrictions that would prohibit the trucks from operating close to residential or commercially zoned areas.
After the meeting, Councilman Reggie Brown announced that he will form a committee made up of local stakeholders to work on refining the legislation.
“We’re really excited that this conversation is actually happening and that people are talking about downtown and they’re talking about the vibrancy of downtown,” said Terry Lorince of Downtown Vision.
Over the last several years, Lorince said, the organization has done several surveys about making downtown more attractive to visitors, pointing to one survey completed two years ago about improving Hemming Plaza.
“Other than cleanliness and safety, the first issue that came out is (to) have more food vendors,” she said.
A recent survey on improving Jacksonville Art Walk revealed similar results; people requested more food options downtown.
An online survey posted by Downtown Vision asking about food trucks following release of the draft legislation received 300 responses just yesterday.
“Of our 300 respondents, three-quarters of them basically said, we want to see them, they add to the vibrancy of downtown, and we want to seem them really with no restrictions,” Lorince said.
About 16 percent of respondents did say there should be some restrictions, and that they should be mindful of existing eateries.
“They’re looking for predictability,” Lorince said of local restaurants. “They want to know what the rules are… they want to know how many food trucks can come, and they’re also looking for communications.”
Stoudt responded to the owners of local eateries who say food trucks are unfair competition by comparing the competition between stationary and mobile businesses to a food truck rally, where several food trucks operate in a specific area at the same time.
“I don’t get upset when somebody looks at my window, at my menu board, and then goes to the next truck because they decided they don’t want to eat what I’m serving that day,” he said.
“It’s about being able to choose what you want to do. Choices are exactly what’s there for people, and that’s what we want downtown. People want more choices to come downtown.”
Stoudt said he is currently hoping to lease a previous Starbucks location downtown to open his own standalone eatery, crediting the success of the Super Food Truck with building the brand and business to make the expansion possible.
You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.
Reporter- Baltimore Business Journal
Baltimore food truck owners say they’re worried a bill regulating where they can do business in the city doesn’t have enough specifics.
Food truck operators made a strong showing at a Tuesday hearing of the Baltimore City Council’s Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee regarding a proposal to regulate where food trucks can park, how they would report their business practices and who would enforce those standards.
Although the food truck owners indicated their willingness to work with the city — and with local brick-and-mortar restaurants — the biggest issues that arose surrounded where food trucks would be allowed to park and exactly how the regulations would be implemented.
While the bill proposes regulating where food trucks can vend, it doesn’t explain the nitty-gritty details of how that regulation will actually take affect — who will receive licenses, which trucks could park where, how zones would be established and other considerations.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, vice chair of the committee, recognized the bill was vague as it’s written. She said the City Council would hammer out rules and regulations with the Department of General Services, which requested the bill and will administer the program, in the 150 days following the bill’s passage — before it takes effect.
Vendors like Chris Cherry, who owns Charm City Gourmet, worried about passing a vague bill without understanding how it would affect his business.
“We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill,” he said.
The proposed regulations would apply not only to food trucks, but to any mobile vendors, including Baltimore’s emerging fashion truck segment.
Sarah covers hospitality/tourism, minority business, marketing and new media
Staff reporter- Portland Business Journal
Jaime Soltero Jr., owner of Portland’s popular Tamale Boy taco truck, is opening a permanent restaurant.
The brick-and-mortar edition of Tamale Boy debuts March 14 at 1764 N.E. Dekum St. in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
The restaurant seats 184 with an outdoor patio and full bar providing meals, tapas and happy hour around fire pits.
The Tamale Boy menu features gluten-free, dairy-free GMO tamales made from locally sourced ingredients and family recipes. The business launched as Mayahuel Catering in 2011 and expanded to include a tamale truck in 2012.
The restaurant was designed by Skylab Architecture.
Wendy Culverwell covers real estate, retail and hospitality.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Proposed municipal code amendments that would clarify rules for the 78 food truck operators in the city of San Diego were forwarded out of committee Wednesday to the full City Council, but without a recommendation for passage.
Food truck vendors have been frustrated with code provisions that make it difficult to operate on public streets and illegal to conduct business on private property except in downtown — and that’s only if the property-owner obtains a conditional use permit. Such trucks have exploded in popularity due to improved menu quality and options.
A staff report to the council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee said the city’s limitations on sales in the public right-of-way “are not consistent with the current desired mobile food vending business model.”
The other problem has been how to resolve concerns by restaurant owners that nearby mobile purveyors of meals are cutting into business.
“It’s a tough one for me. Being a small business owner, I can see some of the merits on both sides,” Councilman Scott Sherman said. “It’s one of those tough decisions we have to make here.”
Committee Chairwoman Lorie Zapf said there are a lot of good places for food trucks to conduct business, but brick-and-mortar restaurants have made huge investments and have to support employees.
“We’re talking about people’s lives and livelihoods,” Zapf said.
The committee members voted unanimously to have staff and the City Attorney’s Office fine-tune the proposals and bring them back to the full City Council at a later time.
The proposal seeks to create an entirely new land use category for food trucks that clarifies where they’re allowed to operate and which land use regulations apply, creating what city staff calls a “reasonable” approval process.
The trucks would be allowed to operate without a permit in industrial, commercial and high-density residential areas. The proposal would generally prohibit them from low-density residential neighborhoods, the restaurant-heavy Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy, streets near the beach and roadways close to the city’s three major universities.
They would generally be allowed on private property with a permit that would cost up to $935, which the staff report says is consistent with other cities.
Among other proposed regulations:
– the trucks would not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, general merchandise or commercial services;
– no equipment aside from refuse containers would be allowed outside the trucks;
– operators would be required to collect litter within a 25-foot radius of the truck before changing locations;
– no amplified music would be allowed; and
– pedestrian and vehicular traffic should not be impaired.
Food trucks would not be allowed to operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, within 500 feet of a residence. The regulations also set out how large the vehicles can be and how far away they need to park from intersections and schools.
Amanda Lee, of the city’s Development Services Department, said most of the prohibitions in the plan have exceptions. Also, an earlier proposal to keep food trucks a certain distance from restaurants was not included because it would not be consistent with state law.
Regulations would go into effect in most areas of the city after being adopted. However, the rules would not apply near the shoreline until the California Coastal Commission granted its approval, or near local airports until the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority weighed in.
You: “I sure could go for a chocolate minted marshmallow doughnut right now, but I don’t know where to find one.”
Your friend: “Coincidentally, I too would be interested in an artisanal doughnut at the moment, perhaps one with a maple glaze and candied bacon, but I am also unaware of where one might be procured.
Me: “You’re both in luck, because the doughnuts from popular doughnut truck Vincent Van Doughnut will soon be available at all Straub’s Markets. And why are you talking like that?
As reported in the Riverfront Times, the hip, where-is-it-now doughnut truck has inked a deal to sell their doughnuts at all four Straub’s Markets beginning Feb. 21. Eight flavors a day will be offered — Fridays through Sundays only, at least at first — on a rotating basis. The flavors might include such favorites as chocolate salted caramel, French toast (their most popular flavor), and creme brulée.
Vincent Van Doughnut has been in business since last October, owner Vincent Marsden said. He and his business partner, brother-in-law Will Saulsbery, are now looking at a brick-and-mortar store from which to sell their confections, he said, though he said the business might not yet be ready to make the jump.
“We’ve only been open for, gosh, five months. That’s been the plan the whole time. The truck was really a traveling billboard and a way to test the market,” he said.
Don’t worry — even if they get their own store, Clyde the truck will still be hitting the streets for Food Truck Fridays and corporate events, Marsden said.
At Straub’s, the large, handmade, hand-cut and indivdually decorated doughnuts will cost around $4 to $5 apiece.
The legendary Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights is moving on up from a food cart to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Maria Cano, a former lawyer and judge in her native Colombia, announced that her family is opening a year-round restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue, out of which she will be selling her delicious arepas.
The Arepa Lady, who has been a mainstay on warm (and some not so warm) evenings since 1990 underneath the tracks of the 7 train near the 82nd street stop, will be moving into a 300 square foot space on 77th and Roosevelt. Her son Alejandro told Serious Eats that “we want to help my mom more, and the only way to do that is with a permanent location. The cart’s permit only runs from April to October, and we can’t quit our jobs for something temporary.”
The Arepa Lady announced on her Twitter that the plan was to open the store by the spring, with inspection by the city done some time this month. But Cano will not give up her food cart; she will be serving food on the corner alongside her family’s new digs.
By Tracey Taylor
BERKELEYSIDE: After the city put a stop to a hugely popular Off The Grid in one part of Berkeley just over a year ago, the food truck market is back. This time, rather than being in the heart of Gourmet Ghetto, whose brick-and-mortar restaurants objected to the competition from the market, the trucks will take up residence in the parking lot of the North Berkeley BART station.
The market will feature 10 or more trucks every week, will be open for dinner on Sundays, from 5:00-9:00 p.m.
It will be the second weekly food truck gathering for Berkeley. Off the Grid is also on the south side of the Cal campus, at Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, on Mondays from 5-8 p.m.
Trucks at the Feb. 9 launch will include Koja Kitchen (which recently opened a brick-and-mortar spot on Telegraph Avenue); Kasa India; sliders and fry vendor WhipOut!; Liba Falafel (which is slated to open a restaurant in Uptown Oakland this summer); burrito makers Burr-Eatery; and Lexie’s Frozen Custard.
Berkeleyside is an award-winning, independently owned news website based in Berkeley, Calif., that shares content with partner organization sfgate.com. Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.
Horry County officials shifted the food truck debate from neutral to drive last week as they moved forward with a plan that could open the area to lunch wagons.
More than two dozen people showed up for a workshop last Thursday to review the results of a county survey and discuss options for crafting a new policy.
“Modern mobile food vending has changed quite a bit from the pushcarts of the past,” said Mary Catherine Cecil, a senior planner with Horry County Government. “There have been dozens of websites, blogs, TV shows, mobile apps to help you locate where to find food trucks, food truck rodeos and food truck festivals and one big new thing is food trucks at wedding receptions and parties.”
County policy prohibits food trucks from operating in unincorporated Horry. County leaders approved mobile food vending in 2010, but their ordinance limits operators to pushcarts. Nothing with a motor is allowed.
But Cecil said local officials have been looking at what other Palmetto State communities have done with the rolling restaurants.
“A lot of people seem to think that we’re behind the times and need to join the rest of the world,” she said.
However, Cecil did note that some restaurateurs are uneasy about additional competition.
“The main concern is taking business away from brick and mortar restaurants,” she said.
Despite that concern, Cecil shared the results of the county’s survey, which showed strong support (94 percent of 450 responses) for allowing food trucks in Horry.
Some of those who attended the workshop also voiced support for the change.
Horry County native Truett Jones said he lives in Holden Beach, N.C., but hopes to move back to the area and is interested in operating a food truck.
“I’m glad y’all are looking at this now,” he said. “The greater Myrtle Beach area is the largest population center in the state of South Carolina that has not really embraced this concept.”
Bill Barber, the manager of Suck Bang Blow in Murrells Inlet, said he doesn’t “want somebody setting up right across the street from me,” but he doesn’t mind the trucks operating in the county.
Last year, he said, he held a food truck festival, which was well received.
“It was extremely successful,” he said. “Everybody was happy. I don’t think anybody got rich, but it was a lot of fun.”
Jones said he doesn’t mind some regulations as long as they don’t hinder competition.
“Don’t make it ultra-protectionist,” he said of a new policy. “We respect the brick and mortars out there very, very much. They put their money in bricks and mortar. What we’re talking about is putting our money in mobile locations.”
County Council’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee plans to discuss the food truck issue on Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. If the committee likes the idea of changing the county’s policy, county staff would draft an ordinance that would be reviewed by the planning commission and the IR committee. If the policy survives those hurdles, it would go to the full council for final approval.
If the county decides to allow food trucks, Barber said, he hopes the policies will be accommodating to entrepreneurs.
“Keep the fees low enough where everybody can make money and stay in business and help our economy,” he said. “If people aren’t in business, we all lose. Everybody knows how fragile the economy is right now.”
Charles D. Perry • 488-7258
Owner Jae Kim said the location will operate similar to his five food trucks in Austin and Houston, with customers ordering at a window from a 220-square-foot kitchen space. Kim cited lack of space for a downtown food truck as the reason for opening Chi’Lantro’s first permanent location. 512-800-9098. www.chilantrobbq.com. Twitter: @ChilantroBBQ
COMING SOON—Blackbird and Henry, a new concept from Chef Mark Schmidt, will open in mid-February. Located at 3016 Guadalupe St., Ste. 110, Blackbird and Henry will include some dishes from Schmidt’s previous venture, Cafe 909 in Marble Falls, as well as new European-inspired options. The neighborhood tavern will also feature a large drink menu. www.blackbirdandhenry.com. Twitter: @HenryBlackbird
COMING SOON—Roberto San Miguel has torn down his wholesale fish business at 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St. to build Mongers Market + Kitchen, a seafood retail-restaurant combination that will open in July. Shane Stark of Kinichi will serve as executive chef at the 1,200-square-foot establishment, which will include a 700-square-foot beer garden and two outdoor seating areas. There will also be a large parking lot, San Miguel said, and limited delivery. www.sanmiguelseafood.com
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