SUN PRAIRIE, WI – They’re a common sight in other urban areas but so far Sun Prairie hasn’t caught on to the food cart trend. But that may change as city officials mull over ordinance revisions that would allow culinary caravans but still keep the peace with brick and mortar restaurants.
Nationwide, food carts are booming in popularity because they offer quick, diverse meals at low prices.
Local restaurateur Todd Dukes has operated a food cart for two years as an offshoot to his Sun Prairie barbecue joint, Porktropolis. But while he’s fed hungry fans all over Madison and other suburbs, his cart has never hit Sun Prairie streets.
The reason? It’s just too expensive. “The licensing fees that the city is charging are too high and unrealistic,” Dukes said in a Tuesday phone interview. “They are double what other municipalities are charging. The current solicitor’s permit fee is $300 annually, $65 per month, and $30 per week, plus background check fees.
Under a proposed draft, the fees would be cut to $150 for the mobile food vending unit and a $25 fee for each mobile food vendor.
Dukes said those are reasonable and more in line with other municipalities’ fees and voiced his support to Mayor Jon Freund, which is how it came up on the March 17 Committee of the Whole agenda.
But during discussions at the council’s March 17 Committee of the Whole meeting, alders were split on how to move forward on ordinance changes in order protect other businesses and the community.
Freund said vendors could be situated around parks that don’t have food serving options nearby, and people could picnic or eat while watching sporting events.
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