OWENSBORO, KY – The city of Owensboro’s new ordinance permitting food trucks on city streets has garnered inquiries, a city official said, and starting Monday, anyone interested in picking up an application packet explaining the process can do so.
“We’ve had several calls to our business license department and to the special events director asking questions, and we have finalized the language in the city application package,” Assistant City Manager Ed Ray said. “It will be available Monday.”
The Owensboro City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance April 15 clearing the way for food trucks to operate within the city. The ordinance, which sparked opposition from several downtown business owners, passed with only a minimum of opposition when it came up for second reading and a vote.
Under the terms of the ordinance, food trucks — or “mobile food vendors” — can park almost anywhere as long as they are at least 100 feet from traditional restaurants or food service establishments. They will not be allowed to park on Veterans Boulevard, however.
They will be allowed to park near city parks. The ordinance allows mobile food vendors to operate throughout the city, including downtown, under strict rules.
Food trucks — basically, restaurants on wheels — sell food through the side window of a cube van or other type of vehicle. They are common sights in many cities.
In fact, Tim Ross, the city’s director of public events, who outlined the food truck pilot program proposal to the commission in March, said food truck vending is a national trend that adds energy and atmosphere to communities while creating additional pedestrian traffic.
The ordinance will require that food trucks operating near a city park have an additional permit issued by the Parks and Recreation Department.
What won’t be allowed under the ordinance are mobile food carts, those small trailers or push carts that sell food under a tent or canopy that could cause sidewalk congestion. Also not allowed — food trailers pulled by another vehicle.
“Food trucks will have to be self-contained vehicles,” Ray said.
Trailers will be allowed for special events, and they are allowed on private property with permission of the property owner, Ray said.
“There is a procedure for that,” he said.
According to the ordinance, food trucks are required to have a city business license, liability insurance, a Department of Health permit and a city mobile food vending permit. Food truck operators will be charged $250 for an annual permit and an additional $400-a-year fee if operating in the downtown entertainment district.
The trucks will be allowed in areas other than residential areas from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Hours for residential zones are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Trucks can not operate more than five hours in a single location. They will not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of a school without the school’s permission and no closer than 100 feet to any business whose primary business is food and beverage sales (except for special events).
Miranda Hernandez, co-owner with her husband Antonio Hernandez of theMexcellent Grill, based in Evansville, said the company is interested in theOwensboro market. However, their food vehicle is a 17-foot trailer pulled by a pickup truck. The operation debuted in Evansville last year.
“We bring our daughter to the new Smothers Park, and we love it,” Miranda Hernandez said. “We stay pretty busy, but we might try it one day a week. I think we’d definitely come for lunch and dinner.”
Kenny Jackson of Owensboro and his partners operate the Kentucky Cookers barbecue trailer, which consists of a new 29-foot trailer that is pulled by a separate vehicle.
“We’d love to do it (here), but I don’t know if we will be included,” Jackson said. “We have state-wide permit. We don’t want to put anybody out of business. We just want to make a living.”
Jackson said he doesn’t understand the difference between a food truck and his operation.
“We bought a beautiful trailer,” he said. “We didn’t convert an old bread truck.”
Jackson said he is interested in the option of operating his trailer on private property.