Knoxville Restaurant Owners Claim Downtown is Theirs
KNOXVILLE, TN - Downtown restaurant owners are fighting against food trucks near their establishments.
The Downtown Knoxville Restaurant Owners group formed after the city announced they were working on a pilot program for food trucks. Twenty-one restaurants from Gay Street, the Old City, and Market Square hired lawyer, Keith Stewart, to represent them.
He sent a letter to the city Friday outlining their concerns. The letter states,
Downtown restaurant owners believe food trucks have a place in our city, but not in our downtown.
They argue food trucks get the advantage of a prime location without the permanent overhead costs.
“Frankly there are a lot of days where there are
more restaurant seats than there are customers. And we just think it’s unfair for them to come in during peak times and take away the clientele and customers we’ve established over the years,” said Bistro at the Bijou owner, Martha Boggs.
The group requests that all food trucks be confined to the World’s Fair Park area. They also list other concerns such as lack of restroom facilities in food trucks and “tacky, obnoxious” signage. They allege food trucks do not provide a stable tax base or have the same rules and regulations as restaurants.
Meanwhile several food trucks have also formed a group called the Knoxville Mobile Restaurants Association to help further their interests. Organizer Johnathan Borsodi said food trucks operate the same way as brick and mortar restaurants.
“We are actually mobile restaurants. We have the exact same establishment permit that every other restaurants have. In fact we actually have more requirements,” Borsodi said.
He said they also are required to meet the same health codes and provide sales tax revenue to the city and county.
“Savory and Sweet” food truck’s owner, Byron Sambat, said they are not targeting the same customers as downtown restaurants.
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