JOHNSON CITY, TN – Leave it alone. That’s Main Street Pizza Company owner Jamie Dove’s solution to the debate over a food truck ordinance in Johnson City.
Tonight’s City Commission meeting is set to include the second reading of a change in an ordinance, which would exclude food trucks in the rule to keep vendors off of public sidewalks and spaces. Dove said he and several other downtown restaurant owners plan to voice their opposition to Johnson City’s Commission’s proposed ordinance that favors food trucks on public land, saying it would negatively affect their businesses that have helped revitalize Johnson City.
Representatives from Numan’s Bar, Frieberg’s Restaurant, the Korean Taco House, Scratch Brick Oven, Taste Budz and more will be on hand at tonight’s public meeting, Dove said. Shop Local and Stable Convergence’s Ted Bradford will also be there. Both he and Dove say tweaking the ordinance has been done without letting existing businesses know what the consequences might be. Dove said he recently made the downtown rounds to discuss the matter with other owners, while remaining open to the idea that he might be in the wrong.
He found a consensus with the other restaurateurs that Johnson City shouldn’t be giving public spaces to food trucks when it could hurt the other tax-paying owners’ ability to generate revenue.
“I’m not anti-food truck by any means — they’re convenient and generate excitement about downtown, but it’s just not fair,” Dove said. “I don’t understand why they need to be given public property to set up and operate on and poach our customers. They should have to come down there and find private property — and it’s down there and there’s a lot of it — and negotiate a lease or a purchase, just like all the rest of us did.”
Citing the much greater amount of garbage that results from operating his stationary restaurant, as well as all the many regulations not applied to the mobile business, Dove said the city is backing something trendy without thinking about the established businesses it could hurt.
Public parking, for example, Dove said is a hot commodity in the downtown area and shouldn’t be given to the mobile businesses who can pull in, poach customers and then pull out. Those spots should be left available as parking options to patrons of established downtown businesses, he said.
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