River City, Public Works At Odds Over Trailer Food Vendors

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Officials said Tuesday a year-long experiment with having food trucks converge at downtown events has been a success with no complaints.

However, there is disagreement over allowing vendors that have trucks pull trailers to the site and dump them off to be included.

Kim White, River City Company president, said operators like Gigi's Cupcakes and Taste of Argentina have blended in well at the food fares - dropping off their trailers and afterward picking them up.

However, Steve Leach, public works administrator, said he sees problems with continuing to allow the dropped-off trailers. "They will dump them off and leave them all summer," he said.

Most of the vendors operate from self-contained trucks, where food is cooked on the spot. Ms. White said all operators go through a rigid health check. 

They cannot take up public parking spaces and only are stationed where they have written permission from the property owner. 

The City Council is being asked to approve a new ordinance on the subject at its meeting next Tuesday. Meanwhile, the two sides are going to continue talks.

Ms. White said such food gatherings have enlivened many downtowns, including Austin and Portland.

She said gatherings here at Warehouse Row and at Miller Plaza on "Fresh Fridays" has been a hit.

Ms. White said "brick and mortar" operators have not complained because the events have drawn crowds, and some of those choose to eat at the restaurants.

She said, "We wouldn't put a pizza vendor right in front of a pizza restaurant."

Ms. White said some of those selling food out of their trucks have been so successful that they have opened their own "brick and mortar" places.   

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