The Transylvania Times -

By Eric Crews
Staff Writer 

Divided Opinion On Food Trucks - Brevard NC

 

Last updated 7/15/2013 at 8:56am



The pros and cons of allowing food trucks to operate in Brevard were a topic of debate among around 20 citizens and local business owners Thursday morning at city hall.

Some believe food trucks in Brevard would benefit the local economy, while some restaurant owners say the mobile food providers would be unfair competition in a challenging economic market.

The input session was the first step in what will likely be a lengthy process of assessing the current ordinance and drafting a proposal to change current regulations that prohibit such operations in the city.

The public input session Thursday came about after a request by local brewery Oskar Blues, which said the food truck industry could open up a range of new opportunities for economic development in the city while also allowing visitors to their brewery the opportunity to purchase food on-site.

Anne Fitten Glenn, head of marketing for Oskar Blues Brevard, said they felt having the option of hiring local food trucks to serve their customers at the brewery would be beneficial because the brewery is located two miles from the nearest restaurant.

Currently, the brewery offers foods from Asheville-based food trucks during special events with a special event permit.

But Glenn said local food trucks would allow customers greater options on days and nights that don’t necessarily qualify as “special events.”

Neal Price, a representative from Oskar Blues, said he believes the food truck idustry could lead to increased revenue for area restaurants looking to expand their geographical reach for less money than opening a second location.

However, others argued otherwise.

Local restaurateur Rick Wilson said if the city allows food trucks to begin operating it could take money away from the brick and mortar restaurants in downtown that often struggle through the year’s slower seasons.

He said his business incurs around $2,000 per month in utilities to operate. A food truck with lower costs could provide an unfair advantage.

Mike Young, owner of Falls Landing, agreed, asking why the food trucks are needed in town.

“We have viable restaurants downtown that work really hard to stay open,” Young said. “You can ask any of the operators downtown how difficult it is year round to make a buck, so to speak.”

Kevin Howell, owner of Davidson River Outfitters, said he is concerned about sanitation issues that could arise with the introduction of food trucks in the city.

“Two-thirds of Pisgah National Forest thinks my shop is already their public restroom,” he said. “So, the last thing I want is a food truck pulling into the vacant lot beside me sending all of their customers to my restroom.”

Dee Dee Perkins agreed, noting that other cities she has visited with thriving food truck industries often have access to public restrooms and hand washing stations in close proximity to their locations.

Perkins also raised the issue of fairness, noting that brick and mortar restaurants pay “substantial fees” in order to operate.

While she said she has concerns about the implications the food truck industry could have on downtown businesses such as hers, she said she has also thought about operating a food truck through her restaurant, Rocky’s Soda Shop.

“Certainly, looking at what is happening nationally, we’ve entertained creating our own food truck, as well,” she said. “Not necessarily to be addressing needs in Brevard, North Carolina, but in some other areas.”

She said she believes the fees would be needed to create an equal playing ground.

“It would definitely need to be looked at from a fairness factor taking into account what other businesses are paying to keep it fair and balanced,” she said.

City planner Daniel Cobb said the city’s planning department will meet with the Brevard Planning Board on July 16 at city hall to provide the board an opportunity to evaluate the range of issues associated with this request and to formulate a recommendation to city council.

While the board often considers matters and formulates recommendations at one meeting, the board has the authority to take up to 90 days to offer its recommendation.

The earliest date the city council could take up the issue would be Aug. 19 when a public hearing on the issue could be held.

The planning department has tentatively scheduled Sept. 16 as the date when city council will consider the ordinance change.

 
 

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