Buffalo’s Best Food Truck Contest is back on track.
The unique local event, sponsored by the Boulevard Mall in Amherst to help benefit Buffalo City Mission and scheduled for Saturday, is no longer in jeopardy of being canceled because of outdated town permit regulations.
Brian Calvert, the mall’s general manager, said one of the mall’s kiosk tenants, Simply Certificates, has volunteered to cover the $700 in permit fees required for the event to continue.
“I was thrilled,” Calvert said. “As always, Western New York comes through for these charities, and over and over we keep proving that.”
Last week, the contest was in danger of being canceled because of the Town of Amherst’s “peddling and soliciting” law that requires “a retail or wholesale business conducted from a temporary structure or tent, truck, van or trailer” to pay a $100 transient business permit fee per truck per location.
In the case of the Boulevard Mall event, seven participating food trucks would each have to pay a $100 fee just to take part in a one-time event meant to benefit the poor and homeless.
Food truck operators said they were completely unaware of the 1993 permit law until code enforcement officers in the town’s Building Department began actively applying it to food trucks offering lunch at town business parks over the past two months.
The town has shut down three food trucks since late August for failing to obtain a permit, which is good for 90 days.
After The Buffalo News reported Sunday that the event was in jeopardy, Calvert said he received several offers from businesses and organizations to cover the permit fees so that the food trucks could participate in the benefit event without the financial burden.
Calvert said he ultimately agreed to accept an offer from Simply Certificates, which sells dining and entertainment gift certificates in the mall. The details were finalized Wednesday.
“This just shows there are a lot of people who care about this cause,” he said.
Seven food trucks will participate in the contest, which will run from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.
The participating trucks include Lloyd Taco Truck, the Whole Hog, R&R BBQ, the Cheesy Chick, House of Munch, the Knight Slider and the Sweet Hearth dessert truck.
Food trucks will donate 10 percent of their total sales toward the City Mission, and members of the public will be asked to participate in some taste testing, cast ballots for their favorite food truck and contribute nonperishable food and clothing to the charity, which will have a truck on site to collect donations.
Participants who bring a donation and/or purchase food from one of the trucks also will be eligible to win a shopping spree at the mall.
The mall, at Niagara Falls Boulevard and Maple Road, will line up the food trucks in the parking lot near the main entrance by the mall logo sign.
“I don’t know what to expect because it’s our first event,” Calvert said. “We hope for a big turnout. We’re hoping to make it an annual event.”
The Town of Amherst is currently working to update and revise its peddling and soliciting law, as well as create a new permit specifically tailored to food trucks.
The new and revised law is expected to come before the Town Board for consideration by next month.
Calvert said the food truck contest winner probably won’t be announced until the week after the event when all the votes are tallied, and the winning truck won’t get anything special beyond bragging rights, but it’s all for a worthy cause.
Stuart Harper, executive director of the City Mission, said he’s hoping people will visit the mission website at www.buffalocitymission.org to see the list of the organization’s current emergency needs and bring a contribution to the mall event Saturday.
He also said the fact that the food truck contest continues to move forward is a sign of good things from above.
“Remember,” he said, “prayer works.”