Small Business Ideas for Food Trucks

What is a Good Municipal Policy for Food Trucks

Food Truck Aerial Demonstrates Great Municipal Planning for New England Food Truck Festivals.

Food Truck Aerial Demonstrates Great Municipal Planning for New England Food Truck Festivals.

by Ben Stevenson,
Food Truck Journalist,
New York City

When it comes to small business ideas, starting a food truck leads the pack. One of the common questions asked is about local ordinances and municipal policy. I posed that question “What do you think should be the ‘Municipal Policy on Food Trucks’? to Robert Mytelka, CEO of Gourmet Streets.  Here is his answer:

If I was a municipal planner or a councilman responsible for devising a reasonable municipal policy to allow the operation of food trucks within our community. What would that policy be? I admit, I am somewhat prejudiced on the issue, but still, I’m entitled to my opinion, and since you asked, here it is. First, let’s debunk the old trash talk about food trucks. Food truck owners aren’t a bunch of ‘want-a-be’ chefs coming in on the cheap to steal business from hard-working ‘legitimate’ restaurant chef/operators. This is America, where a good product is rewarded by being bought, and a poor product is not. Good food served off a food truck will outsell bad food served from restaurants. And conversely, bad food served from a food truck will be passed on by for the good food serving from the restaurant down the street. Good restaurants have nothing to fear, bad restaurants need to improve or close.

And whoever says that a food truck is not a legitimate business has no idea of the costs involved in buying, designing, building out, and operating a food truck. The money spent by the food truck operator is as precious to him as it is to the restaurant operator, perhaps even more so, if the restaurant operator is running a franchise or chain of restaurants. So assuming a level playing field, this is what my municipal policy would read:

1. Food Trucks may operate during all business hours other restaurant businesses are permitted to operate. And by special permit may exceed those hours of operation.

2. Within city or municipal centers, Food trucks may operate in the same areas as do other restaurants, but must park in legal spots at least 200 feet from the closest restaurant, not more than two trucks next to one another and those, not within 1000 feet from the next closest food truck(s).

3. In addition to the above, Municipalities should set up additional areas within their city centers for food trucks to park by a lottery system conducted once annually.

4. Outside city and municipal centers, including public and private parks, sports, arts and music facilities, Food trucks may operate in designated areas, up to three trucks in a single location, except for permitted events, when more trucks can congregate within the same area.

5. Food trucks may stay in one place for up to three hours, or longer if not parked in a heavily trafficked area, and during the evening hours, after 7PM, may remain stationary throughout that evening.

6. Food trucks must pass health and fire codes as assigned to the operation of a food truck, and must pass inspection by these agencies on a bi-monthly basis.

7. Food trucks must work in conjunction with some other permitted commercial kitchen or commissary, where prep work is performed, refrigerated storage, and grease/oil disposals are available.

Gourmet Streets was the first Food Truck Business System Model in the United States, opening their business in 2009. They saw a need for developing business plans and models for the food truck community, and their idea has been gaining traction in the marketplace. They offer food truck business packages, services and consulting, so they know food trucks, and being that food truck permits, licenses, ordinances are so critical to the success of any food truck business, I thought Gourmet Streets was a great place to get a perspective on the view of this issue from one of the leading innovators of the Food Truck Community. For more information and Free Food Truck Industry Business Report, you can contact Gourmet Streets here or to speak with a Food Truck Maven, Call 888.983.8383