Rules Could Be Reason Food Trucks Haven’t Entered Downtown

Rules Could Be Reason Food Trucks Haven’t Entered Downtown

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ownsboro ky downtown

OWENSBORO, KY - Food trucks have yet to make an appearance in downtown Owensboro, even though a new ordinance permits their operation. But the city isn’t ready to make any adjustments to the rules, according to the city official who has worked closely on the matter.

The “mobile food vendor”ordinance was introduced “to make it possible for food vendors,” said Tim Ross, director of public events. “The previous ordinance did not allow it. … At least now they have the opportunity if they want to create a business.”

For now at least, the city intends to let the ordinance stand as written, Ross said. Any change would come at the direction of the City Commission, he said.

Basically, the city is waiting for the business sector to respond to the opportunity, Ross said.

While the ordinance contains certain restrictions on the operation of food trucks, Ross said he didn’t think the ordinance was too restrictive. On the other hand, starting a food truck operation isn’t cheap.

“It requires an investment by entrepreneurs,” Ross said. “Not as much as a brick-and-mortar (restaurant), but it is an investment. … I don’t think we are too small. It takes a good business plan.”

Lois Decker, director of the Owensboro Small Business Development Center, a background in food service would be a near necessity for anyone venturing into the food truck business. “If you don’t have that background, you would be under the gun from the beginning,” Decker said. “You have to know how to control cost. It’s always good to have experience.”

Money, or the ability to get it, is also a must for a startup, Decker said.

“Banks will not loan 100 percent,” she said. “You have to have 10 percent at least. A lot of people we see do not have the financial part under control. They don’t have enough saved up.”

With the right food, a food truck has the potential to be a good business, Decker said. But having the right kind of experience, money and credit to pursue such a business can be difficult for people, she said.

Mayor Ron Payne said no changes to the food truck ordinance have been requested, and none are being contemplated.

“I am a little disappointed that I haven’t seen any downtown,” Payne said. “It seemed like a popular issue. A lot of people were talking about it, but it sure has fizzled. I haven’t heard anything about it since we adopted it.”

The City Commission unanimously approved the ordinance on April 15, clearing the way for food trucks to operate within the city. The ordinance sparked opposition from several downtown business owners.

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