The Political Process

Given the chance to decide between a candidate who likes street food and one who is mum on the subject, go for the one who will make delicious things happen.

Joan Garner, candidate for Fulton County Commissioner District 6, showed up at the Urban Picnic in front of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. If elected, she will align herself with Kwanza Hall and support legislation freeing up opportunities for the food truck community to thrive in the city of Atlanta.

Look at Ms. Garner moving between the Yumbii Korean taco truck, the popsicle cart of the King of Pops, and Hayley Richardson’s adorable Artichoke Bliss tricycle cart and follow your intuition: the woman loves food and supports young entrepreneurs. Vote for her August 10 (or early, August 2-6) in the runoff election for District 6, which includes much of intown Atlanta.

Kwanzaa Saves the Day

You may have noticed a break in the sequence of picnics organized at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market to promote street food culture on the last Friday of the month.

A permitting issue rose its ugly head and the picnic slated for Memorial Day weekend had to be canceled.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Pamela Joiner, the Market’s fiercely smart manager, and Councilman Kwanza Hall who stepped up to the plate as an official sponsor, the event will resume on Friday, June 25, and be held every month until at least October with the City’s blessing.

This official letter of sponsorship and the Councilman’s blessed signature renew our hope for city-approved vending!

News from All Over

In New York City, two City Council members will introduce a new local law giving the Department of Health authority to “suspend any vending permit issued to a truck with two parking tickets in a 12 month period and revoke the permit of a truck that receives three parking tickets in a 12 month period.” Feeding the meter and idling while hogging a parking space should, indeed, be discouraged, but the business resulting from a new generation of gourmet food trucks shouldn’t.

In Chicago, on the other hand, the City Council just heard testimony from executive chef and food truck advocate Phillip Foss and chef Matt Maroni, author of a model food truck ordinance  that has the support of at least four aldermen. In his column, our friend Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune begged the city (“Don’t make me go to Hoboken”) to legalize street food. “What we need is an ordinance permitting trucks with onboard cooking equipment, so they can serve hot, made-to-order dishes,” he wrote. “Serving bad, warmed-over food is already OK in Chicago. Let’s amend the rules to permit trucks to serve first-rate food.”,0,3811246.column

In Houston, where a local TV station savaged the taco truck industry, blogger J. C. Reid rose to its defense, reporting that there is basically no difference in terms of health rating between a decent taco truck and one of the city’s most beloved upscale restaurants. “What can we conclude from a review of these records?” the author asks. “Most health inspection reports are reflections of exactly what they are: routine inspections where otherwise sanitary kitchens are reminded about actions they need to take to stay clean and compliant with legitimate health codes. Just because violations are found at Tony’s during a routine inspection does not mean it is a ‘filthy’ or unsanitary restaurant. It’s not. But neither is the Taqueria Veracruz taco truck.”

[image by J. C. Reid]

The Road to Street Food: Dead Ends and Detours

Mike Cutno, a graduate student in City Planning at Georgia Tech, recently wrote a paper about food cart regulations for a planning-law class. Based on what he calls a “rudimentary research of the ordinances and legal precedents in place,” Cutno came to the conclusion that “the only way to get food carts on the streets legally is to seek a political solution.”

If you are interested at all in the topic, whether as a possible vendor or, more likely, a frustrated consumer, read the paper and educate yourself about the many issues and the way they have been addressed in other cities.

Of special interest: the section about the Vending Advisory board and its composition and an extensive bibliography that should inspire further reading.

[photo by Vene Franco]

No Longer Alone

Chicago wants to help us. New York takes notice of Atlanta’s efforts toward legalizing street food. We are feeling the love!

Look at this report from the Big Apple featuring a food fight in New Haven;  vendors in front of Yale New Haven Hospital; and a picture from our own Food Truck Extravaganza in Buckhead!