ORANGE CITY, FL – Gram’s Kitchen manager Rhonda Hogue doesn’t have a problem with how the Food Truck Bazaar has been pulling into town on the first Sunday of the month. She just doesn’t want to be neighbors.
“It’s a little too close for comfort,” she said last Thursday while doling out stuffed cabbage and cornbread at the Taste of West Volusia in DeBary. “It’s right at John’s Appliance next door. And we get a drop in business whenever they’re here.”
That’s how those who run many eateries feel about the bazaar, said Councilman Gary Blair, who told his colleagues at a recent meeting that he’d called the city’s approximately 50 restaurateurs in recent weeks and nearly all voiced concerns.
“(They) felt it wasn’t fair these people can come in,” he said, “make lots of money, leave town and not live up to the same standards as they do.”
These sentiments could become more pronounced across the county now that the bazaar has stretched out and sunk in its hooks.
“We agreed to try it one time,” said New Smyrna Beach Parks Superintendent Liz Yancey, “and everybody got a wonderful response, so we’re gonna try it again.”
Created by TheDailyCity.com founder Mark Baratelli from Orlando, the Food Truck Bazaar first came to Volusia County at the parking lot of the Orange City Lowe’s in March, then moved to John’s Appliance on Route 17-92 for its May 6 event.
Last week, despite Mr. Blair’s lone “no” vote, the Orange City Council granted the regular convoy another three-month permit – starting on June 3, this time at the Kmart plaza on Saxon Boulevard.
The previous gatherings were from 5 to 8 p.m., but summer hours will be 6 to 9 p.m.
Roland Simmons, owner of the Pier 16 seafood restaurant on 17-92, said city leaders aren’t thinking about the businesses with a true investment in the city.
“I pay $10,000 in property taxes here,” said Mr. Simmons, who’s owned the restaurant for 21 years, “and these food trucks, they buy a temporary permit. They come into town, put on their little show and lots of people spend their money there. But they don’t have bank accounts here.”
If times were different, he said he might not be so obstinate.
“We’re all struggling here in Orange City,” he said, “and that’s the last thing I need, for the city to bring in something like this to take money out of the pocket of people who do business in Orange City.”
Orange City leaders said they would revisit the issue when considering another three-month permit in late summer.
Orange City Vice Mayor Paul Treusch said he might not visit the bazaar if area restaurants offered similar fare.
“I don’t think I would patronize one of the food truck folks if I could get that specific kind of food at a restaurant,” he said.
Find the entire article by Dan Harkins at myhometownnews.net <here>