NEW PORT RICHEY — City Council last week stayed in neutral on an issue to set standards for food trucks.
Some business owners believe the food trucks would siphon away customers, while others believe they might bring more people to the city and increase traffic for everyone, bricks-and-mortar eateries included.
Council postponed considering an ordinance until Councilman Chopper Davis returns for discussion of possible rules governing the operation of food trucks. Davis was absent from the July 17 council meeting and asked for another postponement, City Manager Debbie Manns said.
The ordinance already had already been postponed since June to allow several revisions, Manns said. She hopes to coordinate with Pasco County, which also is considering similar regulations, the city manager said.
Most of the concern about food trucks appears to be coming from downtown food establishments.
Gerald Kuss, a partner and owner in Rose's Bistro Off Main LLC, on Grand Boulevard, said during public comments that he was “vehemently opposed” to food trucks operating in the downtown area because restaurants there already are struggling to retain clientele.
Downtown merchants have “skin in the game,” resident Richard Melton said. They bought buildings, not trucks, he said.
Michael Ottoway predicted the downtown area could turn into a “ghost town” with restaurants deserting the neighborhood if food trucks are allowed.
Councilman Jeff Starkey, however, said he knows a food truck operator who also owns two restaurants. Downtown restaurants perhaps could piggyback with specials that tie in with food truck offerings, he suggested.
The food trucks are “bringing people into our downtown,” Starkey said.
Often, different businesses appeal to different crowds, Mayor Rob Marlowe remarked.