Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

February 13, 2013

DDA officials to discuss food truck recommendation

TRAVERSE CITY — Downtown Development Authority officials will meet Friday to stew over what, if any, recommendation to make to city commissioners on where food trucks might peddle their fare in the downtown district.

About 80 people crowded a DDA session this week to hear where things stand on a possible ordinance to govern mobile food units and what role the DDA may have in that process

City officials asked the DDA to weigh in on where it thinks food trucks should be permitted downtown. After discussing it at their January meeting, the DDA decided to solicit public input

Most of those who spoke were restaurant owners who oppose food trucks downtown. Peter Makin, owner of Brilliant Books, said food trucks tend to operate only in the summer and take business away from established eateries that pay hefty costs to stay in business and rely on higher summer volume to counter the lean off season.

“We have all these costs associated with having a brick and mortar business that we have to have and I love to supply, and I’m not complaining,” said Randy Waclawski, co-owner of The Dish. “I just want the playing field to be even.”

Wally Green, owner of the Green House Cafe, said he agreed with other restaurant owners who don’t want food trucks close to their businesses.

“All we’re doing is cutting up pieces of the pie and allowing people to come in and make money during the summer,” he said. “It’s not fair.”

Longtime downtown Traverse City businessman and property owner Bruce Rogers said it would be a mistake to ban food trucks. Instead, he recommended they be concentrated in an area near the river — a concept that capitalizes on what he said is an underutilized asset and is similar to one he saw thriving in a European city.

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