BOULDER, CO - Boulder could explore some limited opportunities for late-night food truck service downtown this fall.
Food truck owners have for years sought the opportunity to serve the post-bar crowd on its way from downtown back to University Hill, but Boulder’s regulations on food truck service don’t allow the trucks within 150 feet of a residential area, within 150 feet of an existing restaurant or after 9 p.m.
Those ordinances are designed to protect neighbors from noise and crowds and “brick-and-mortar” restaurants from competition with much lower overhead.
However, many food truck owners say they end up traveling to Louisville, to Erie, to Broomfield and even to Denver to make ends meet.
An ordinance that received unanimous approval from the Boulder City Council on Tuesday night does not address that desire for late-night service. It only expands the number of food trucks that can locate on private property from two to four.
However, some City Council members said they were open to ideas from operators and want the city to try more pilot programs this fall.
A previous experiment in late-night service in the parking lot of the Park Central building, near the northwest corner of Broadway and Arapahoe Avenue, ended with food trucks seeing little business.
Trucks also saw limited traffic in city parks.
Molly Winter, director of the Parking Services and Downtown and University Hill Management Division, said food trucks tend to see a lot more customers at events where something else is going on, whether bands or movies, and the city will look for opportunities to include food trucks in city events.
The city is also going to try the Park Central program again this summer with better lighting.
But Thomas Warnke, owner of The Wheel and Whisk food truck, suggested finding a few spots in the downtown area, such as outside the Walrus Saloon, where food trucks could apply for a permit to take up three or four parking spaces and operate once or twice a week after most restaurants are closed.
Adrian Julian of the Top of the Hill Grill West said food trucks aren’t trying to compete directly with brick-and-mortar restaurants.
“They’ve already decided it’s not worth their time to keep their kitchens open after 10 or 10:30,” he said. “We need to create a city-sanctioned location that is in front of the late-night crowd.”
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