Food truck pilot programs are hitting bumps in the road across the U.S., most recently in the cities of Columbus and Boulder.
Some blame a lack of communication between city officials and stakeholders for causing the programs to stall out; while others say the programs are a good start — but have a long road ahead. Meanwhile, some cities are considering whether to add more regulatory-tape for the mobile kitchens, as brick-and-mortar restaurant owners complain about their upstart competitors.
Columbus Delays Pilot Program
In Columbus, Ohio, the city council has delayed the launch of the food truck pilot program, as food truck owners and city council members continue to discuss rules and regulations for participants.
Brian Reed, the owner of the Mojo TaGo food truck and the president of the Central Ohio Food Truck Association (COFTA), says the pilot originally was set to launch June 1. The program would allow participants to park in 18 metered spaces and an undisclosed number of unmetered spaces in the city.
In addition to possessing the correct licenses and undergoing fire and health inspections, food trucks participating in the Columbus pilot program need to be shorter than 25-feet long to help with line of sight – which many food truck owners say prohibits participation. Reed says 40% of COFTA members own trucks longer than 25 feet.
Rosa Huff, the owner of the Swoop! food truck in Columbus, calls the length restriction “frustrating” and “very restrictive.” Her truck does not qualify for participation in the program. Huff says she feels the recommendations put forward by the COFTA were ignored, but Reed is hopeful ongoing discussions with the city will result in a more inclusive program.
However, only 11 food truck owners showed up two weeks ago for the inspections necessary for participation. Explaining poor attendance, Reed says the city didn’t give food trucks enough notice and didn’t take into consideration their schedule.
“The intentions were good, but timing was an issue … this is our busy time,” says Reed, who notes many food trucks had lucrative catering gigs booked for the Saturday inspection window.
While some estimates by the city place the number of food trucks in Columbus at 150, Reed believes there are only 50 or so mobile food trucks.
“Consumers want us, and that helps us more than anything,” says Tatoheads food truck owner Daniel McCarthy.
Boulder Program Off to a Rocky Start
In Coloroado, communication issues have also affected Boulder’s pilot program, which launched June 1.
The program allows food trucks to set up in specific locations in neighborhood parks. There are also some late-night parking spots for participants in the downtown area, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night through the end of September.
But on the day of the program’s launch, no food trucks showed up at the park, says John Michael Sethney, the owner of Verde and Cheese Louise, two food trucks operating in Boulder.
Find the entire article by Gabrielle Karol at FOX News Business <here>