The debate over food trucks in Jacksonville is moving forward at City Hall.
A committee formed to come up with legislation outlining guidelines food truck operators have to follow, will meet again Monday.
They’re popping up all over the country and Jacksonville is no exception. You see food trucks on any given day in Hemming Plaza, near the courthouse and in corporate parks.
In February, Jacksonville City Councilman Reginald Brown proposed a bill that would put restrictions on how food trucks do business. There was immediate backlash from food truck owners who feared their business would be compromised or at risk of even shutting down. Working together, the councilman formed a committee to work on the bill.
“Very excited about the progress you know, we went from a very concerned industry to basically an industry that realizes that city legislation is needed and they embraced it and I believe that we are going to come away with a god product that everyone can work up under,” said Brown.
Jennifer Kline co-owns a food truck named Up in Smoke BBQ and she’s also a member of the committee.
“We went through line by line at the last meeting and we went through and got a bunch of stuff that we got thrown out and a bunch of stuff that’s going to stay,” said Kline.
Meeting for the second time Monday, Kline expects they’ll go over items the committee tabled at their first meeting.
“You know being within so many feet of a brick and mortar with like food so we’re trying to fight that it’s free enterprise… We would like to see us be able to park where we’re allowed to park with regulation but we should be able to park anywhere and be competitive,” said Kline.
A concept that once had food truck operators frantic, Kline said she believes this way of drafting the legislation, they’ll have to follow, is reasonable and fair.
“I think it’s gone really great. Reggie Brown has done a great job of making us feel included in the decision making as well. I don’t know where the brick and mortars stand because they haven’t shown up yet so we’ll see how the next meeting goes.
Councilman Brown said he gave himself 90 days to get the bill finalized, so that means he hopes to have it done within the next two months.
The meeting Monday is at 4 p.m. at City Hall and they welcome the public to come and give input.
Ashley Gurbal Kritzer
Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal
The owners of The Super Food Truck want to move their concept into a brick-and-mortar space in a ground-level storefront of 11 East Forsyth, an apartment tower in Downtown Jacksonville.
Co-owner Dale Stoudt said he’s signed a letter of intent for the 2,595-square-foot space previously occupied by Starbucks Corp. Finalizing the deal — a five-year lease — is contingent on state approvals of his kitchen and hood system. He said he’s been told those approvals take 30 days or less and plans to submit his floor plan Monday.
He said Vestcor Cos., the building’s developer, plans to seek $30,000 from the city’s retail enhancement incentive program. Vestcor will also provide tenant improvement dollars as part of the deal, and Stoudt said he will invest about $100,000 in the space.
“The truck gave us the ability to develop the brand,” Stoudt said, “and we have a nice profit margin for weekend festivals.”
Stoudt, who co-owns the business with Richie Haugk, said once he opens a brick-and-mortar restaurant, daily lunch service from the truck will cease. But he’ll continue with the catering and special events business and will also continue to work part-time at the Capitol Grille to subsidize his restaurant as it gets off the ground.
He’s booked through June with events including The Players Championship and One Spark.
“I can send the truck out on the weekends and make payroll,” Stoudt said.
The restaurant concept will feature the same mix of healthy foods — like a salad wrap that includes avocado and quinoa — and not-so-healthy, like the best-selling fried macaroni-and-cheese balls.
Ashley covers real estate, hospitality and retail
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The downtown Thai restaurant Surin Company is closing after nine years in business, and a new seafood restaurant from the owner of the Off the Hook food truck will open in its place, AL.com has learned.
Surin Company will close after lunch on Friday, and if all goes according to plan, the new Hooked seafood restaurant should open in time for lunch on Monday.
Rayford Cook, who started the Off the Hook food truck about a year and a half ago, will be the chef-owner of the new restaurant. He will continue to operate the food truck, he said.
“It has been part of my plan to open up a restaurant,” Cook told AL.com this afternoon. “The food truck is something that I wanted to do and was excited to do, but I’ve always had the game plan of opening a brick-and-mortar, as well.
“I am going to spend most of my time in the restaurant and let my crew take the truck out on a daily basis,” Cook added. “So we will still have both.”
A Surin Company employee who answered the phone at the restaurant this morning declined to give her name but confirmed that Friday is the restaurant’s last day.
The other Surin restaurants in the Birmingham area – Surin West in Five Points South, Surin of Thailand in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village and Surin 280 in Perimeter Park South off U.S. 280 – will remain open, she said.
The downtown Surin opened in February 2005 on the first floor of the Concord Center at the corner of Third Avenue North and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard.
The new Hooked menu will feature several of the dishes already popular with Off the Hook customers – including crab cake sliders, fish tacos, and the spicy Rocket Shrimp – as well as several new ones, Cook said.
“We are going to have shrimp and grits daily, a New England-style lobster roll, gumbo, red beans and rice and a lot of different sliders – from barbecue to shrimp to crab cakes,” Cook said. “We are also going to do a lot of po’ boys, including shrimp and oyster po’ boys.”
Price points will be in the $8 to $10 range, Cook said.
Hooked will open for lunch only for the first two to three weeks, Cook said, but after that, he plans to open for happy hour, dinner service and Sunday brunch.
The lunch hours will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
As for the restaurant’s name, Cook explained: “They (customers) come in one time to eat, and they’re hooked.”
A Hooked website and Facebook page will be coming soon, Cook said, but until then, he said customers should visit the Off the Hook Facebook page or its website, ryouhooked.com, for more information.
When City Council member Reggie Brown proposed a draft bill to regulate food trucks, the blowback from the mobile restaurateurs and supporting community was immediate.
Today, Brown and at least 25 others will review the draft ordinance line by line — adding parts here, crossing out parts there — to craft what he calls “landmark legislation” on the issue.
“I’m giving them a chance to put it in their hands,” Brown said Tuesday. “The goal is to create legislation that we can all live with.”
Any issues that generate large discussion will be set aside for future meetings.
Brown said he isn’t anti-food truck. Instead, he said he’s concerned about public safety and accountability.
“It scares me to think we can have a food truck industry and we don’t know who is out there,” he said, providing an example of if people caught hepatitis C from one of the vendors but officials being unable to locate the source.
He also said he’s aware of concerns brought up by Jacksonville Beach senior planner William Mann during a recent food truck debate in that community.
Specifically, his concerns that Jacksonville “is not clear on legislation and rules concerning food trucks and enforcement is erratic,” according to Mann’s research that reviewed policies and concerns in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and other Florida and national cities.
“I can’t ignore that,” Brown said of the Jacksonville notes.
Brown’s draft prohibited the vendors from operating past midnight and from operating within 300 feet of a restaurant, among other rules. He said he expects conversation this afternoon to focus on those rules, which he’s open to change.
He said the criticism aimed at him about the legislation mostly has died down when people realized he wasn’t against the industry. But, brick-and-mortar restaurants still have concerns, mostly Downtown.
“We don’t have the foot traffic Downtown,” he said. “The perception is (food trucks) were taking away patrons.”
In response, Brown said he will separate the issue into citywide, special events and Downtown portions and ask the Downtown Investment Authority to handle the urban core area.
As for critics who say regulations snuff out the free market, Brown said the two businesses are part of the same industry but there are differences.
“We have to be fair … we are building our city with brick-and-mortar,” Brown said. “We will find a way to co-exist.”
The meeting starts at 3:30 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall.
COLUMBUS — Members of the city’s Public Property, Safety and Works Committee got a lesson in food safety Monday afternoon.
The committee brought in a state inspector to discuss food trucks that operate in Columbus, but didn’t take any action to increase regulations on the mobile businesses.
Melva Ball, a food sanitarian with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Consumer Protection division, said food trucks must be licensed through the state and are inspected at least once a year to ensure safety codes are met.
“When we see food trailers, we pull over and inspect them,” she said, whether they’re permanent businesses or temporary operations at events such as the Platte County Fair, Columbus Days or Duncan Ribfest.
According to Ball, there are four food trucks that operate regularly along U.S. Highway 30 in Columbus, and she may inspect those businesses more than once a year.
However, Ball covers Platte, Madison and Stanton counties, so there’s plenty of other work to do.
“I do appreciate it if people call me when they see something because I can’t be everywhere all the time,” she said, adding that inspectors follow up on each complaint while keeping the reporting party anonymous.
Ball said the Department of Agriculture receives more complaints about standard restaurants than food trucks — since there are significantly more brick-and-mortar operations — and she couldn’t recall any recent complaints involving Columbus food trucks.
This item appeared on the city council subcommittee’s agenda at the request of member Jim Bulkley, who received photos from a constituent concerned about the food trucks.
One of the photos shows water draining from a food truck onto the pavement near an electrical cord used by the business.
Ball said the water issue is “concerning” and something state food inspectors look for, but she noted that other potential safety hazards that don’t deal directly with food aren’t regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
This includes the electrical cords and another citizen concern regarding exposed propane tanks.
Columbus Police Chief William Gumm said there currently aren’t any local rules and regulations his department enforces regarding food trucks. The department takes a “common-sense” approach when checking up on food trucks, he said, which includes telling the owner when something doesn’t appear to be safe.
Food truck operators who don’t own property in Columbus are required to purchase a vendor permit. These permits cost $10 per day or $100 for four months.
The committee briefly discussed the possibility of regulating food trucks locally, but there were concerns this could negatively affect events that include food sales, such as the fair, Columbus Days and Lawnchairs on the Square.
“You can’t be selective when you draw up regulations,” Bulkley said.
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.
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