There is controversy afoot in St. Petersburg over establishing guidelines for food trucks in St. Petersburg. Food trucks are mobile kitchens that have become quite the trend in cuisine as of late, even making a splash nationally on television. Many are sophisticated operations with some even run by chefs and/or restauranteurs.
Up until January, it seemed as if public support would push the St. Petersburg City Council to establish new rules for food trucks. Amongst the options being considered are allowing food trucks to partner with existing businesses, granting food trucks the right to operate in vacant laws in the downtown area, and allowing Pier-area or Beach drive privileges for the trucks.
Now the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce has entered the fray, putting the brakes on City action. A Chamber of Commerce task force has now been established.
After its first meeting on Jan. 26th, it published a list of concerns on the Chamber’s StPete.com website, including effect on local brick and mortar restaurants, the ability to enforce regulations for food trucks, the impact on trash and cleanliness of the surrounding areas and the danger to pedestrians in congested areas.
At its second meeting this past Monday, the Chamber reported it is revisiting the recommendations it is compiling and will be reporting them at the St. Petersburg City Council meeting on Feb. 23rd at 9:15 a.m. and is encouraging all those who have an opinion to come to city hall to share it.
The food truck community and food bloggers throughout the area are attempting to mobilize public support to protect what they feel is their right as small businesses to operate in a free and fair market.
The Fire Monkey Food Truck is one of the local St. Petersburg businesses leading this cause and is spearheading a petition and email-writing campaign. Visit their Facebook page/website to learn more.
Sunshine Slate will be starting a multi-part, in-depth series on entrepreneurship in the culinary world, including food trucks, home baking and food businesses (which were recently legalized under the Florida Cottage Food Law) and new restaurant start-ups in these challenging economic times.
**UPDATE** When contacted by Sunshine Slate and asked to provide some of the recommendations it had collected in regard to food trucks, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce Advocacy/Economic Development Coordinator Jillian Lusk said that, “At this time we do not have any published information to share.”
By: Harold Rodgers/Sunshine Slate
Image: Lance Turner/latuphoto.com