Lawmaker who wants to loosen rules for food trucks owns a food truck

More food trucks could soon pop up on street corners and other public spaces popular with pedestrians in Arizona.State Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Glendale, has proposed a law that would cut local government regulations that food-truck operators say hamper business. They complain such rules keep them out of many areas, such as parks and public parking lots.Payne's proposal, House Bill 2371, would curtail many city and county ordinances that limit where food trucks can park and what hours they can serve customers.His interest in the issue is personal: Payne owns a food truck. He said attorneys for the House determined it was not a conflict of interest for him to sponsor HB 2371.The bill comes as cities in Arizona and across the country have struggled to regulate the food-truck industry, which has boomed since the late 2000s. That popularity has raised issues about parking, hours of operation and distance from brick-and-mortar restaurants.Initially, Payne's bill drew loud protests from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. But that opposition has subsided after Payne accepted an amendment to limit some of the bill’s reach.A panel in the state House of Representatives voted 7-2 to advance the bill on Feb. 12, and it now heads to the full House for a vote.Payne said his interest in the issue started with his love of smoked barbecue.In 2015, Payne and his wife bought a food truck after friends at an Arizona Cardinals tailgating party raved about his barbecue. He used his savings to build a custom truck, and K Star BBQ was born.But Payne said he quickly learned how hard it is to do business given the patchwork of regulations in different cities.He said some cities don't allow food trucks to operate after 9 p.m. Others prohibit trucks in upscale areas. A few localities even require his food truck to have a certain size of trash can.Payne said that's why, when he became a Continue Reading

Not all Minneapolis food trucks get an annual inspection

The food trucks typically lining downtown Minneapolis streets for the lunch crowd have mostly closed up shop now that colder weather has arrived. But city health inspectors might still be out there looking for them. As many diners know, finding a specific food truck is a crapshoot even at the height of summer. Sometimes, inspectors have a hard time finding them, too. As a result, about one-quarter of licensed food trucks in Minneapolis haven’t been getting an annual inspection from the city’s Health Department. Of the 95 food trucks licensed to operate in Minneapolis two years ago, at least 29 percent were not inspected that year. Last year, there were more trucks and 25 percent went without inspection, according to a Star Tribune analysis of inspections data provided by the city. Inspectors find and inspect most food trucks during the peak months of spring and summer by showing up at popular downtown food truck groupings, festivals and farmers markets, and then inspecting any food trucks they find. Near the end of August, inspectors start looking for specific trucks they haven't yet inspected. They might check social media or cruise around the city. Eventually, they might call the food truck owner. If they can't find the truck or if the truck is done operating for the year, inspectors will mark it down as "not in operation." When inspectors tried to find trucks after September, they were largely unsuccessful. Two years ago, 81 percent of these late inspection attempts failed; last year, 51 percent failed. Almost all of the food trucks that were ultimately not inspected in 2015 and 2016 were listed as "not in operation," although a few cases involved food trucks that either started late or went out of business in the middle of the year. Inspectors didn't record any attempted inspections for a couple of other licensed food trucks. Taken together, these numbers seem dramatic. Aren't there regulations for this sort of thing? Here's the Continue Reading

From cell to sell: Food truck staffs former Rikers inmates

Even amid the city’s eclectic food trucks, Snowday’s concept is unusual: “gourmet lumberjack,” a farm-to-table menu with maple syrup-drizzled grilled cheese sandwiches, seasoned pork ribs and fresh vegetables. But that’s not all that sets it apart. Snowday is staffed by young men and women who have spent time behind bars, most of them at notoriously violent Rikers Island. “I always wanted to work on a food truck. I always wanted to be that person at the grill,” says Darius Jones, a 23-year-old from Harlem with a history of street fighting, one of about two dozen former inmates who have gone through the program over the past two years. Jones was hired out of a halfway house by Snowday’s founder, Jordyn Lexton, a former teacher at Rikers who grew frustrated seeing some of the same young people she taught returning to jail over and over again. Lexton, 29, left Rikers in 2012 and founded the nonprofit Drive Change, which uses the food truck to teach the formerly incarcerated cooking, hospitality, money management and even emotional development to prepare them for reentry into the job market. “I witnessed a system that did not do much to help young people rehabilitate,” Lexton said. “One of the few places in the jail where my students were really happy was in the culinary arts class, with the power of teamwork, camaraderie and a shared meal.” The program capitalizes on that interest and adds the discipline of a competitive business. At Drive Change’s headquarters in Brooklyn, a small, busy kitchen serves as what Lexton calls “a living classroom.” In addition to learning to cook, employees engage in sessions that reinforce the qualities of a successful life: trust, love, respect for others and self-reflection. “I became a man, in control of myself,” Jones says of the program. “I was needed, I was Continue Reading

Asbury nonprofit food truck needs your help now

ASBURY PARK - The Jersey Shore has a lot going for it — we have funnel cake, vintage arcades, the boardwalk. But there’s one thing that the Jersey Shore doesn’t have: a communal food truck. So far.“People have said to us in the past, ‘why don’t you do a food truck?’ I have no desire to do a food truck for private use or for the restaurants,” said Marilyn Schlossbach, who owns five restaurants including Langosta Lounge, Pop’s Garage and the Asbury Park Yacht Club as well as a catering business.But she would open a food truck if it meant helping the community, Schlossbach said.Schlossbach started a charity, Food for Thought by the Sea, which aims to “strengthen communities through positive outreach and youth-empowerment programs,” according to its website. Last year, a charity community dinner she hosted received a large donation, which she decided to use on a down payment for a food truck.But this is no ordinary food truck.The truck would employ youth from Kula Café, an operating café that doubles as a training program that teaches skills for the hospitality industry. Kula Café is owned and operated by Interfaith Neighbors.“Youth will work on the truck and then we can also (inform) about Kula … while also raising money and giving kids another opportunity to learn a profession.” said Schlossbach. HELPING ASBURY:  Asbury Park youth need rides for summer jobs BUSINESS LESSONS:  Asbury Park youths learn secrets of businessSchlossbach would not profit from the truck.“This is a way for us to do something that doesn’t continually tug on the finances of our company,” she said. “It’s based on the philosophy ‘give a person a fish or teach a person to fish.”“What we will probably do is hire someone that will oversee the truck, but we want to engage the youth to work on the truck in creating a food concept that Continue Reading

Meet the Beast: Cherry Hill couple launches food truck

Even when you are doing something you love and are great at, there comes time for a change.And that’s how it was a while back for chef/caterer Mark Rooks, who owns Rent-A-Chef of Haddonfield with his wife, Ridgway Grace. SJ FOOD TRUCK FEST: Take your pick at Cooper River Park eventTogether, Rooks and Grace have built a loyal following of corporate and private clientele who count on them for everything from high-end backyard barbecues and family affairs to swanky corporate galas.And Rent-A-Chef will still do all that, make no mistake.But Rooks felt he needed a culinary challenge to inspire him and take the 16-year-old company to the next level.Meet the Beast of the Street Custom Food Truck, powered by Rent-a-Chef, which will make its debut Sunday at the South Jersey Food Truck Festival at Cooper River Park.The couple, who, after years of living above their Tanner Street business has settled to raise their family in Cherry Hill, considered opening a restaurant.They used to own My Little Kupkake in Collingswood (closed when Grace needed to refocus her energies on babies born 19 months apart, as well as a health issue), and considered other storefront options. Today, they make a home with Rooks’ daughter Kendall, 14; as well as Adaline, 3; and Everly, 2.CAST YOUR VOTE: Let candidates eat cakeRooks is a 1992 graduate of The Restaurant School in Philadelphia who studied in Paris and trained at Le Cordon Bleu. He is club house chef for the Philadelphia Phillies.One night, he watched the film “Chef,’’ (written, directed and starring Jon Favreau). Rooks was charmed by the notion of a restaurant chef in need of a life change hitting the road in a food truck.“Going on 16 years and I had an itch. I wanted to do something different,’’ says Rooks. “I would pick up the paper and see different things … it here was the food truck craze. I told (Grace), let’s get a food truck. I want to do a food Continue Reading

Fort Collins stalls food truck rules

Fort Collins officials have temporarily parked proposed rules on food trucks that would limit how long they may operate in a single location.Potential changes to city code pertaining to food trucks were expected to be considered by City Council on Dec. 1. But the item has been pulled from the agenda, said Pete Wray, senior city planner.“We were directed to rethink the options and go back the Planning and Zoning Board,” Wray said. “We need more time to work on this.”During a recent hearing, Planning and Zoning Board members said they did not see a problem with the city’s current ordinance governing food trucks, Wray said.FOOD TRUCKS: Fort Collins seeks to keep food trucks movingMembers recommended that if the City Council wanted additional regulations on food trucks, it might consider changing the land-use code rather than vendor licensing.City planners will likely have another meeting with food truck operators and other mobile vendors as they re-examine regulatory options, Wray said. Planners would then meet again with the Planning and Zoning board to get its recommendations.At the direction of City Council, staff members have been working for months to come up with options for refining city code related to mobile vendors and clarifying definitions.The issue was whether mobile vendors should be allowed to set up shop in one spot on a semi-permanent basis.While the majority of food trucks regularly move from place to place, some have stayed in single locations for weeks, if not months, at a time.The city’s thinking is mobile businesses “should indeed be mobile,” Wray said.Food truck operators have opposed any changes to city rules, saying they are unnecessary and would hinder their ability to do business.Rules recommended by staff included limiting a vendor to working no more than 50 hours in the same location in a calendar week and no more than 100 hours in a calendar month. Kevin Duggan is a Continue Reading

Fort Collins food trucks resist more regulations

Controversy about potential changes to rules for food trucks in Fort Collins continues to roll along.A handful of food truck owners showed up to the Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board meeting on Thursday to voice concerns about proposed regulations that would limit how long trucks may stay on private property.The issue was not on the board’s agenda, but the vendors showed up anyway. They know the board and other city planning officials are kicking around ideas for rules and recently had a work session on the topic.ALSO: Fort Collins stalls food truck rulesThe vendors were clear on their takes about additional regulations: Don’t do it; leave us alone; business is challenging enough; we don’t need more complications.The city, county and state already heap requirements on vendors, they said. To add more, such as limiting how long they may park in a single place over the course of a day, week or month would hurt their businesses.And that’s the crux of this issue. The City Council has told staff to come up with ways to ensure mobile vendors, as in food trucks, are indeed mobile. The trucks are not supposed to be in semi-permanent locations.The council’s interest in trucks is in response to other businesses that are unhappy about trucks that always set up in the same places.Just a few vendors fall into this category. The majority of the city’s 40 or so licensed food trucks regularly move around to breweries and other sites, including the Coloradoan, in search of business.NOCO: Fort Collins seeks to keep food trucks movingThe trucks are on private property and have all the permits they need to be there, but some other businesses don’t like it. However, a non-scientific online poll conducted by the city found 81 percent of respondents don’t see a problem with how long trucks are at the same place.The Planning and Zoning Board is considering options for regulating time through land-use code changes. Ideas under Continue Reading

Fort Collins seeks to keep food trucks moving

Fort Collins officials want to make sure outdoor mobile vendors such as food trucks and trailers really are mobile.A proposed change to city code pertaining to outdoor vendors would potentially limit how many days and hours a food truck or trailer would be allowed to set up shop on private property. The potential shift in regulations is in response to vendors who consistently park and do business in the same locations, city staff members said.An intention behind city rules established for mobile vendors in 2012 was that food trucks would set up on a temporary basis, said Pete Wray, a senior city planner.However, some vendors have taken to staying in one spot for weeks and sometimes months at a time.FOCO: Waffle Lab to open restaurant in early 2016“The idea is that mobile vendors should indeed be mobile,” Wray said.“Most vendors move on a regular basis anyway, so this really wouldn’t impact them,” he said. “There’s a small handful that have set up on a semi-permanent basis.”At the direction of City Council, staff members have been working for several months to develop options for refining city code related to mobile vendors.Staff proposals have changed a number of times in recent weeks, in part due to feedback from vendors, Wray said. Vendors would prefer no additional regulations.Options for the regulations will be presented Thursday to the Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board, which will send its recommendations to the City Council.One option will call for making no changes to existing rules and definitions. A second option would require mobile vendors to:•Not leave a vehicle unattended in a public right of way or private licensed location for more than two hours during applicable hours of operation;•Move mobile food trucks that have been vending within the last 24 hours off private lots before 3 a.m. After visiting its approved commissary kitchen, a truck may return to the lot but may not operate before Continue Reading

Let me sell my taco! Food truck owners bite back over city rules on where they can operate

Want a quick hot dog, taco or barbecue sandwich for lunch downtown?Forget about it — say two food truck owners who filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday arguing that a Louisville ordinance is making it unnecessarily difficult for food trucks to operate on city streets.Troy King of Pollo food truck and Robert Martin of Red's Comfort Food said their businesses enliven Louisville but that they are hindered by a city rule that prohibits mobile food vendors from operating within 150 feet of a restaurant with a similar menu.With their lawsuit, the pair hopes to get the ordinance repealed."We get complaints from restaurants, which I really don't understand because if you have McDonald's and Burger King across the street from each other, neither one of them are calling about the other," King said. More: Kentucky cafeteria chef is cooking up a storm on Food Network More: Can food help reconnect a racially divided Louisville? Martin said he has been fined and threatened with having his truck towed from several locations downtown — places his regular customers know as his typical haunts."This suit is about nepotism, cronyism and favoritism ... all the food truckers want is a level playing field and for the customers to decide," he said.Several local food truck owners said they have recently started noticing "no food trucks" signs going up in prime pedestrian locations, such as the corner of Fifth and Market streets.City officials said they could not comment on the intent of the signs because of the pending litigation. But food truck owners have linked them to the proximity rule, which says mobile food vendors cannot operate within 150 feet of any restaurant that offers a "main featured item or items" similar to a nearby eating establishment unless given permission by that brick-and-mortar business.Possible consequences for breaking the rule include fines, jail time or loss of license, said Arif Panju, an Continue Reading

Level the field for food trucks | Editorial

Louisville is proud of being a foodie town. Food trucks are part of that scene and add to the vibe the city is desperately seeking.A city ordinance puts food trucks at a competitive disadvantage.It’s time for Louisville to revisit the ordinance governing food trucks.The city now prevents food trucks from operating within 150 feet of a bricks-and-mortar restaurant if the mobile business sells main featured items like those offered in restaurants. That’s a competitive disadvantage for the food trucks. A traditional restaurant shouldn’t need to worry about the competition if it is offering great food and great service. That limit, especially in downtown, makes it difficult, if not impossible for a food truck operator to succeed.The current ordinance should be repealed and modified.Two food-truck operators have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging Louisville’s ordinance. There are no protections for a competing restaurant to open near an existing establishment.Let’s be realistic, a food truck must not be squatting outside the front door of a restaurant. There must be rules of the road, so to speak. Operators already must be licensed, insured, adhere to restaurant health regulations, and follow other location restrictions, like not operating too closely to residential areas. More: Let me sell my taco! Food truck owners bite back over city rules on where they can operate San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, repealed similar location protections of restaurants after the Institute for Justice challenged the restriction. That group is behind the Louisville lawsuit and cases in Baltimore and Chicago.We so want to be hip and thriving like Austin, Texas. Food trucks were on the scene in Austin, a place renowned for its vibe, years before arriving in Louisville. Food trucks in Austin can’t be located within 20 feet of traditional restaurants and enforcement is complaint driven.  Look there for guidance. Use Continue Reading