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empty battle creek streets
Jennifer Bowman/The Enquirer

BATTLE CREEK, MI - The lines on Jackson Street are painted and the ordinance is now on the books, but only one vendor has so far applied for a license since Battle Creek commissioners voted to allow food trucks downtown.

“The current application volume is about what we expected,” Jessica VanderKolk, the city’s communications specialist, said in an email Thursday. “We were not anticipating a large number of applications in the immediate term.”

Shane Farlin, owner of the food truck Hogzilla Squeals on Wheels, said he applied for the downtown vending license, the only one to have done so as of Wednesday morning. He said he already has a state-issued veterans peddler’s license and is exempt from additional fees because he is former military.

The City Commission voted in a new vending ordinance July 1, allowing up to seven food trucks to operate on Jackson Street beginning 10 days later. This week, crews marked off parking spaces and installed signs designating the spots for vending.

The issue sparked a months-long debate as downtown restaurant owners voiced concerns over unfair competition in an area that doesn’t have a large enough customer base to support the food trucks. After discussions over locations and the addition of a provision that would end mobile vending downtown after 2015 unless renewed, commissioners adopted the ordinance in a 7-2 vote.

Vendors can operate as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 3 a.m. and must pay a $30 monthly license fee. VanderKolk said because the ordinance requires a background check on all employees involved in transactions, it is the city’s standard practice that each employee must acquire a license.

Find the entire article at battlecreekenquirer.com <here>

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boyne city downtown

BOYNE CITY, MI — The Boyne City City Commission will go back to the drawing board in its effort to draft an ordinance that will regulate the operation of food trucks within the city.

During its regular semi-monthly meeting Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to reject a proposed ordinance that would have allowed mobile food vendors to operate on a limited basis.

The move leaves the city where it was last fall when discussions about food truck regulations first came up at city hall: with no ordinance regulating food truck operation within the city.

However, with the same vote, in which it rejected the proposed ordinance, the commission also invoked a 90-day moratorium prohibiting food trucks from operating on public property anywhere within the city.

The moratorium specifically exempts mobile food vendors affiliated with special events such as the upcoming annual Fourth of July celebration and other similar events at which food trucks have traditionally been permitted.

By not including private property, the moratorium didn’t go far enough for many of the opponents of the proposed ordinance.

City attorney Jim Murray explained that his firm recommended the moratorium only include public property because that action is more legally defensible.

Murray said to invoke a moratorium on food trucks on private property (where zoning permits them) would amount to a taking of property rights without due process, something that could place the city on shaky legal ground. He also reminded the commissioners that a moratorium is intended to be a temporary “emergency” measure — not to take the place of legislation.

The discussion about food trucks began last fall when city officials began fielding a number of request from vendors inquiring about what they needed to do to operate within the city. Based on the interest, and the fact that the city currently has no ordinance regarding the operation of mobile food vendors, city staff began seeking public input on the issue.

Initial input from those who attended two public information session was generally agreeable to trying out an ordinance that would allow food trucks to operate in a limited way. Based on the input, including some from the city commission, last month city staff brought forward the proposed ordinance that was ultimately voted down Tuesday. The ordinance set forth a permitting process for food truck vendors, designated two public parking areas — one on South Park Street near the Boyne District Library and another near Peninsula Beach, set forth buffer zones on private property around currently-operating restaurants and set forth other regulations such as hours of operation, trash collection and prohibitions against flashing lights and amplified sound.

Last week a group of business owners, many of them restaurant operators, requested a meeting with city officials to voice their concerns about the proposed ordinance. Following the meeting, city staff came out with a revised recommendation to scrap the proposed ordinance and impose the moratorium.

Find the entire article at petoskeynews.com <here>

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ettas kitchen

HARBOR SPRINGS, MI — Less than two weeks after a trial program for portable food vendors was approved, Harbor Springs has its first food truck applicant.

With the city council’s approval today, Monday, Etta’s Kitchen, a food truck and catering business co-owned by area residents Steve Erber and Fred Hackl, will operate next to the Harbor Springs farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays through the summer.

“Our desire is to use our menu to showcase the the ingredients offered by local producers at the market,” Hackl wrote in a letter of application to the city council. “We will display the menu and information on local producers on two video monitors and place local producers’ condiments on the shelf below the serving window for tasting.”

Erber and Hackl launched Etta’s Kitchen in February. They intend to build, operate and sell mobile food vendor franchises, but currently have just the one truck on area streets.

Etta’s Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner items from eggs, bacon and pancakes to a ribeye cheese steak sandwich, kabobs and even fish and spaghetti, depending on the day.

“Some items are started at the commissary and finished off ‘in the field,'” Erber said.

Starting this week, Erber, a woodworker, and Hackl, an architect, are also opening a traditional restaurant for breakfast and lunch service in Harbor Springs at 1053 West Conway Rd.

If approved by the council, Etta’s Kitchen will be the first food truck permitted to operate in Harbor Springs under newly established guidelines for such mobile food vendors. In a 4-1 vote at their June 2 meeting, city council members initiated a six-month pilot program for food trucks and other portable food servers.

Find the entire article at petoskeynews.com <here>

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Harbor_Springs_Michigan_Downtown

HARBOR SPRINGS, MI - The success of food trucks in Boyne City and Traverse City has inspired Harbor Springs to look in to this new trend.

The small town of Harbor Springs has taken the idea of mobile food vendors off the back-burner to test if it will help their town’s economy.

Harbor Spring’s population in the summer time nearly triples,

The community thinks it’s time for something new to roll into town to help their economy.

 “What we don’t want is for a family, or a couple, or anyone to come in our town come to my restaurant and it’s an hour wait there or an hour wait at matt’s restaurant the new york try to find a place to eat and leave harbor springs and say i’m never going again because there’s not much for me to do,” said Stafford’s Pier Restaurant’s General Manager Jodi Ewbank.

To curb the community’s appetite for something to rejuvenate their economy the Harbor Springs counsel has decided to test the waters by implementing a six-month mobile food-vending pilot project.

So far operating regulations or fees have not been set by the city.

Find the entire article at upnorthlive.com <here>

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Historic-downtown-Marquette

MARQUETTE, MI - Food Trucks are becoming more popular in the city of Marquette, and the owners would like to see a change in the city’s ordinance. Dia De Los Tacos has been serving Mexican cuisine for two years now and Senors Taco Truck has recently joined them in the city. The current city ordinance does not allow the trucks to sell on the streets or in public places. The owners of the food trucks have been contacting private businesses to set up at during the week.

The city looks to the Marquette Downtown Development Authority, who represents many of the restaurants within city limits, for guidance. Food Truck operators would like to see a change that would allow them more access within the city, although they say the don’t want to compete with brick and mortar restaurants.

“We want to stay away from competing with restaurants, it’s not something that we can really do; you’re never going to go to a food truck if you want that sit-down experience and we totally understand that,” said Dia De Los Tacos Co-Owner Teri Lynn Walker. “We would like to be on the street because I think it would leave us with more options in terms of where to serve and who to reach.”

Find the entire article at uppermichiganssource.com <here>

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Battle Creek Downtown

BATTLE CREEK, MI - After months of heated debate among residents and restaurant owners, city commissioners will vote next week on proposed changes to allow food trucks to operate in part of downtown Battle Creek.

City commissioners will vote on whether to introduce three ordinances at their regular meeting Tuesday, the first of two steps necessary to bring an end to decades-old regulations that have banned food trucks, leashed dogs, bicycles and skateboards in the downtown area. The ordinances also include guidelines for the city’s special events and expanding and renaming the central business district as the downtown business district.

If they vote to introduce the changes Tuesday, commissioners still would have to formally adopt the ordinances at a later meeting before food trucks would be allowed.

Since the last public comment last month, the city administration has added a “sunset” provision to terminate the part of the ordinance that would allow food trucks downtown at the end of 2015 unless the commission votes for an extension.

“There’s a lot of concerns about what might be,” Interim City Manager Susan Bedsole said. “And until we get to go through it a little bit so we know what is and not what might be, this gives us the opportunity to really go through two seasons and see. But it also gives some comfort level to those who don’t think they should be there at all and to say, ‘Look, we’re going to talk about this next fall.’”

Find the entire article at battlecreekenquirer.com <here>

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Food truck repair shop

YPSILANTI, MI - J. Doyle is an ambitious businessman with ambitious goals.

The owner of America’s Resellers Inc. – a business that buys and sells commercial kitchen and restaurant equipment – said he wants to start a food truck park near 3011 E. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti Township by the end of the year.

“Right on Michigan Avenue we have a space being designed for a food park. The engineers are going to submit the plans in probably two weeks. Optimistically I’m hoping by October we’ll be up an running, but realistically it’ll be next spring,” he said.

“I have 10 gourmet food trucks that want to go into that park if we open tomorrow – everything from Asian; Italian; One Potato Two Potato – a place that does potatoes about 25 different ways – and Farm to Table, to name a few. There will never be a duplicate in any park.”

Doyle’s idea for a food truck park in the township comes on the heels of him opening a food truck manufacturing warehouse at 1559 Beverly St. in Ypsilanti Township.

Tony Caprarese, the Swisher Commercial listing agent who closed on the lease, said the warehouse manufactures trucks for food cart vendors nationwide and is selling them at a rate of about one per day.

“We’re shipping them all over. We have two leaving for Chicago next week, we have two or three we’re building right now for Michigan, we have five or six trailers that we’re having manufacturers build right now and a we’ll convert them into food trucks for them and they’re for Michigan, too,” Doyle said.

“The first thing we do is have a new engine in every truck. So if you come in today and you sign a contract on a truck, well we keep an inventory of at least three or four trucks at a mechanics shop, and we have a new engine put in and give buyers a two year warranty on that truck. Then it takes us about two or three weeks to totally transform it.”

Doyle said that carts and food trucks add a new dimension to the restaurant industry and that they are a much better investment than a brick and mortar location.

Find the entire article at mlive.com <here>

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grand rapids food truck
(Lauren Petracca | MLive)

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The food truck fleet is on its way downtown.

Grand Rapids Art Museum managers expect to feature of rotation of food trucks on the Wege Plaza next to Rosa Parks Circle this summer, starting with the first confirmed truck, A Moveable Feast, which soft-opened downtown this past week.

“Hopefully, food trucks will be a staple at the museum from now on,” said Wendy St. John, food and beverage manager at the GRAM, which received city approval to host food trucks downtown late last summer.

St. John said the museum this summer is hoping to maximize usage of its permit, which allows for two food trucks on the plaza every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and until 11 p.m. on the weekends.

The GRAM is currently the only private landowner downtown approved to host food trucks under zoning rules passed by the city in 2012. The museum’s permit allows for year-round truck hosting, but harsh weather has kept trucks away from downtown since the end of ArtPrize last year, she said.

St. John is reviewing about eight truck applications. “We’re definitely interested in taking more,” she said. “We feel like a rotation will be nice for the pedestrians and business crowd.”

Brennan Summers, owner of A Movable Feast, is eager to set up downtown.

Find the entire article at mlive.com <here>

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Battle Creek Downtown

BATTLE CREEK, MI - Battle Creek officials will again discuss proposed downtown ordinance changes related to food trucks after putting the discussion on hold for nearly five months.

A public roundtable meeting on revisions of the city’s vending, downtown business district and special events ordinances will be held Wednesday, April 23. City staff held the first session in late November, during which downtown business owners voiced concerns over unfair competition from food trucks while residents said the mobile vendors could provide additional, much-needed dining options in Battle Creek.

Decades-old regulations prohibit food trucks from operating in the downtown area, the only part of Battle Creek where the mobile vendors are banned.

Officials have since changed the proposed vendors ordinance to allow food trucks downtown near Festival Market Square, the home of the Battle Creek Farmer’s Market and where construction planned for this year would enhance the site as a public gathering space.

Vendors would be prohibited in the downtown business district except “in designated parking space located parallel to Jackson between McCamly Street and Capital Avenue Southwest,” according to the ordinance.

The city said in a news release that the revisions would make the ordinances “more consistent with each other, as well as state law.” Susan Bedsole, interim city manager and community services director, said she hopes the recent change for food trucks is a “win-win situation” for the parties involved.

Find the entire article at battlecreekenquirer.com <here>

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boyne city miBOYNE CITY, MI – Boyne City officials want to know how their residents feel about food trucks. Two meetings have been scheduled to offer information and take public comment on the issue because, as of yet, the city has no policy regarding the mobile food industry.

Michael Cain, Boyne City’s city manager, said the community currently doesn’t have any policies in place relating specifically to food trucks’ operation. But with more and more operators emerging in Northern Michigan and elsewhere, he said the city commission has directed staff to explore the topic in the next few months and find out whether any new policies should be developed.

As part of the process, Cain said officials likely will consider approaches taken by other communities to food truck operation, and provide opportunities for public input.

The meetings are planned for 6 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 25, and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday March 6. Both meetings are to be held at the Boyne District Library community room, located at 201 East Main St. in Boyne City.

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