on May 15, 2013 - 1:32 AM
The region’s emerging food truck industry has been in the news in several communities. The Common Council recently voted to lower the first-time fee for food trucks from $1,000 to $800 and changed vending district boundaries to allow food trucks at Canalside.
A divided Amherst Town Board struggled to devise new rules for rolling chefs, but ended in an impasse. And there are indications that the Village of Williamsville might opt to take a more hands-off approach to food trucks.
Peter Cimino, co-owner of Lloyd Taco Truck and a leader of the local movement, talked recently with The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer about the industry’s future as part of the weekly “In Focus” series.
Meyer: If I were to ask you to assign a grade to the progress the food truck industry has made in the Buffalo area over the past two years, what would the grade be?
Cimino: Probably a B-minus.
Meyer: That low?
Meyer: Because some supporters would say that you’ve made a lot of progress.
Cimino: It depends what you’re measuring it against. I think we’ve given up a lot, which is OK for the time being. Obviously we need to continue to operate. However we can work it out with these jurisdictions, we’re going to go ahead and do so. But at the end of the day, it’s not really what’s best for the industry. And it’s not what’s really going to get it to flourish in Western New York.
Meyer: What is best for the industry?
Cimino: Definitely less regulation. I mean, in terms of creating laws, we should really only be concerned with protecting the health, safety and well-being of our citizens. And I think the county does that as far as the Health Department goes. I don’t see the city needing to step in and do much other than maybe making sure we’re not creating a traffic hazard.
Meyer: Are you saying that food trucks should be able to go anywhere?
Cimino: I’m saying they should be able to go almost anywhere. The idea that we’re essentially barred from downtown is completely ridiculous. Downtown seems to be a ghost town on the weekends and anytime after 5 o’clock. Why not give the trucks a chance to go down there and maybe create a little hustle and bustle?
Meyer: But you do have trucks there, right?
Cimino: We do, yes. … one truck at Main and Mohawk. But that’s the only location that we’re permitted to be in. We can’t get any access to, say [First Niagara Center], or the convention center – any of these other appealing places.
Meyer: Some suburbs have been focusing on food truck laws.
Cimino: Amherst is right now. And Williamsville is next in line. So we’re kind of crossing our fingers that maybe some of the other villages, or East Aurora, Kenmore, they might take more of a hands-off approach – like I think Williamsville is going to do.
Meyer: What has the growth pattern been for the industry?
Cimino: Two years ago, we were probably at four or five trucks. Right now, we’re probably at about 10, I would say seven of which are operating pretty consistently, almost on a daily basis. Six or seven. But to give you an indication of some other cities [that] have had legislation for as long as us, such as Boston and Cleveland, there’s almost 45 trucks in Cleveland right now, and way more than 50 trucks in Boston.