One recent message to Mobile Cuisine was from a Nashville Food Truck owner asking us to cover the growing food truck scene in the Music City. This got our staff to start discussing how we can fulfill this request and decided that this is an area we have been lacking in, and need to correct.

Because of this, we have concluded that covering food truck cities will become a new content source for our readers. Starting today, we will begin to profile cities across the country which food trucks are operating and flourishing. In our first city profile we will look at the growing food truck scene in Nashville, thanks to our reader’s submission.

Across Nashville the citizens of this historic country music town have been given the opportunity to dine from food trucks serving everything from authentic Philly cheesesteaks to Vietnamese banh mi, quinoa tacos to fruit-kissed Italian ice, biscuits and gravy to homemade marshmallows.

These Southern diners are lining up at service counters cut into customized step vans, salvaged campers and trailers throughout the city.  Many of the food truck frequenters may not even know that the Music City’s food truck revolution was almost crushed before it even began, due to a 2005 city ordinance which would have kept these mobile food vendors from operating at all.

Mas Tacos Por Favor was the first truck to make its way to the streets of Nashville however like many of today’s national food truck originators has crossed over to the brick and mortar arena. Crystal De Luna-Bogan launched The Grilled Cheeserie in November of 2010 which helped to spark a large number of mobile vendors to follow in her footsteps. Nashville now has more than 35 mobile eateries traversing the city streets.

Nashville has its own regular food truck events just as many cities in the expanding food truck craze. Food Truck Tuesday at the 2nd Harvest Food Bank and Food Truck Friday at the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee bring together a number of trucks to group up on private property to allow diners to sample food from each truck.

Happy Eating (Japanese cuisine) owner Laura Myers said, “I like that there are a lot of food trucks.  I think it’s really cool that we all come together and can be mobile restaurants, but I also think it’s great we are all different.”

Some businesses are unhappy with the growing presence of food trucks due to their claim of unfair competition. These complaints have gotten the attention of the cities politicians which has them reworking the current legislation which is confusing and contradictory.

Section 13.08.040 of the Metro code states: “No person shall stop, stand or park any wagon, pushcart, automobile, truck or other vehicle, or erect any temporary stands, signs or otherwise, upon or within any public property of the metropolitan government for the purpose of selling or offering for sale any goods, food, wares, merchandise or products of any kind.”

Unfortunately, the “Regulations for Temporary Sidewalk Encroachments (Street Vendors and Temporary Signs)” allows for exceptions to that rule, noting that having temporary vendors on public ways. The biggest problem is, those regulations which were adopted in 1998, “do not address motor-driven vendor sales,” according to Gwen Hopkins-Glasscock, public information liaison for Metro Public Works.

With all of the current issues truck owners are facing have created the need for the Nashville Food Truck Association to be created to give these mobile vendors a single voice to help them work with business owners and the government to craft a set of regulations and ordinances which are fair and equitable to everyone. Some of the issues being bandied around by politicians are to limit food vendors from doing business between 2 a.m. – 5 a.m. and preventing more than two vendors from setting up on the same block at one time.

B.J. Lofback, president of the Nashville Food Truck Association and co-owner of Riff’s Fine Street Food truck has a goal to, “work cooperatively with the authorities to be involved in whatever codes and regulations come about so they are mutually beneficial.” Lofback is quick to emphasize that they’re not trying to steamroll anyone: “I can’t emphasize enough how much we do not want to be a problem,” he says. Lofback a former Internet marketing specialist has emerged as an outspoken leader of the mobile vendor community as it seeks to find its place in the city’s growing culinary landscape.

From all we have seen, it appears as though Lofback and the Nashville food trucks are doing things right, and it is clear that food trucks in Nashville are here to stay.

Link to Current Nashville Food Trucks: