Local owners of mobile food establishments are concerned about a city ordinance to be reviewed at today’s meeting.
The city of Marshall outlined the ordinance in its meeting agenda, which regulates where and when food truck owners can operate their businesses.
There are currently no city regulations on operating a mobile food establishment within Marshall.
“The provisions are all common provisions found in various city mobile food vendor ordinances,” said Wes Morrison, the city’s planning and development director. “The purpose in the ordinance is to provide mobile food vendors the opportunity to do business in Marshall while protecting the interest of the citizens and property owners in Marshall.”
The new ordinance, if passed, will change the way local food truck owners operate, according to Randy Cox, owner of Catfish Xpress.
Cox and Chris Bisset, owner of Mega Bites Sliders Co., said that they expect the new restrictions to negatively affect their profit margins if it is allowed to pass.
“It’s not that we don’t want regulations, because we do, we want it on the books. What we don’t want is restrictions like these that seem unfair and hurt our businesses,” Bisset said.
Mobile food vendors will be restricted to downtown Marshall, locating them 100 feet away from the property line of any “open and operating fixed-location food service establishment” without written permission from the owners.
The city defined downtown as north of Travis Street, south of Grand Avenue, east of Grove Street and west of Alamo Boulevard.
Cox said the congestion of businesses in this area makes it nearly impossible to operate there. Vendors are also limited in the amount of time they can stay in a location, restricted to spending no more than eight hours in one location per day, no more than 30 minutes at a time on any public street, no more than five days in a row in one location and only allowed to operate between 5:30 p.m. and 12 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Cox said that this will directly affect his ability to do business, forcing him to restrict his hours of operation.
“We are usually open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; that is a huge part of our business,” Cox said, “I won’t be able to do that anymore.”
Bisset was also concerned that these restrictions will not allow him to operate during both the lunch and dinner rushes, costing him profits and forcing him to choose between the two time periods.
“This will affect where and how I do business, and will hurt my profit margin,”he said.
Cox was also concerned that restrictions in the ordinance regarding sound regulations are too vague.
Bisset said that he was also concerned that the ordinance will pit brick-and-mortar stores against food trucks.
“I want to see the town grow and work side by side with other businesses; I don’t want to steal business from anyone,” Bisset said.
Morrison said the city came up with the plan by researching numerous city ordinances which regulate mobile food vendors and creating a draft.
Cox and Bisset said that they had planned to discuss the regulations with Morrison before the draft was completed, but never did.
“We did not discuss the specifics of this ordinance with the community as a whole, however elements of regulation were discussed with various business owners over the past year,” Morrison said, which he stated included Cox.
Morrison said that there are two reasons for the creation of the ordinance — as part of the the Mobilize Marshall plan which was adopted in June, and as a response to a rise in the number of food trucks operating in the area.
“The use of mobile food vendors had increased in Marshall, which prompted the city to provide regulations for their use,” Morrison said, “This has happened in many cities in recent years.”
City commissioners will hear the ordinance for the first time at at 6 p.m.
Bisset said that he plans to attend the meeting to discuss his point of view.
“All I want is the opportunity to state how this is going to effect my business,” Bisset said.