Food truck proposal goes before City Council Tuesday

Posted at: 05/13/2013 10:24 PM
Updated at: 05/13/2013 11:39 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Move over hot dog vendors. Nearly two dozen food trucks are looking for a space to call home in Rochester. On Tuesday night, Rochester City Council will vote on a pilot program that will open up space downtown for them.

A food truck is like a mobile restaurant, serving foods like burgers, chicken and sandwiches. News10NBC got a preview of two of them, "Marty's Meats" and "Le Petit Poutine". If the pilot program is approved, these two trucks and others would be allowed to sell food in certain spots for six months.

Some food vendors have concerns about the programs. They want to know how can 21 trucks work with only six spots? They're afraid it's going to be a fight every night for a spot. News10NBC took that concern to Rochester City Council member Carolee Conklin, whose committee has studied the issue and Tuesday will make its recommendation.

Elizabeth Clapp, "Le Petit Poutine" owner, said, "We could potentially have 21 to 25 food trucks entering into a pilot program where only six spaces are available and we're shelling out $750 a piece with no guarantee of selling that day."

Clapp is one of the owners of "Le Petit Poutine". She and a partner sell a childhood favorite of French fries, cheese curds and gravy. She's excited about the opportunity, but worried about the number of spaces. Clapp said, "We're putting in almost $500 food downtown, driving in and if you don't get a spot you're out your labor costs, your out of food and possibly the opportunity to vend that day."

Carolee Conklin, City Council Member, said. "Well for 20 years, we've limited the number of hot dog carts downtown. They are in a specific location, they pay for that location. Because it's on a city street we can't set aside a specific spot for a specific truck."

Conklin says this program would allow food vendors to purchase a permit for $750 and set up a shot downtown until the end of the year. 

Conklin said, "And we are basically doing what every other major cities have done. Now we are a little late in the game with regulating food trucks. Major cities have got regulations in place and I don't buy the argument that it's anti-American."

There are a few other regulations during the pilot program. Vendor trucks could be no more than 28 feet long. Selling from trailers to the street side of the truck would be prohibited. Vendors would only be allowed to sell during specific hours and they would not be allowed to set up any closer than 300 feet to the nearest restaurant.