The Soap Box

The Food Truck Revolution

By Timothy Bristol
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-bristol/

This week I would like to talk about something very personal to me, the lack of acceptance of Food Trucks by municipal governments in Connecticut.

I know this is a very ” Grinds my Gears” kind of piece but it has been so difficult to make any headway on this topic, that I ask that the reader indulge me this time.

I currently own a food truck called The Melting Truck. We have been in business since Late 2020. You may have seen it in and around the Stratford area. The Truck can be found at the Shakesphere Farmers Market. I enjoy doing business in Stratford and in other towns nearby, but I have come across many issues with the towns in Connecticut, especially Stratford.

The issue is that most municipalities don’t really have or want policies regarding street vending for food trucks. I can’t just go out and park my truck on the side of a street and start selling to the public.

Now I understand that I can’t just park where ever I want. It would be a bad policy to allow food trucks to park anywhere, but most municipal governments including Stratford have the opposite policy or no policy at all regarding food trucks.

This lack of policy needs to change, food trucks all over the state encounter policies that are either lacking or negative towards them. Stratford seems to have absolutely no policy when it comes to where food trucks can set up shop in the town and that is disappointing.

Despite my letters, public comments, and even conversations with various public officials in Stratford, no effort has been made to at least form a policy.

I am not asking for much, all I would like is a place for food trucks to operate in town without being hassled by zoning, or any other commission in town. I will say that the police and the health department have been helpful and understanding on this topic but the town council and other commissions have been either a thorn in my side or completely absent in addressing the issue.

My suggested plan would be to set up a few zones in town where food trucks can safely operate without becoming a problem for residents or other businesses in town. I propose the beaches, the Birdseye boat ramp, the parking lot at Shakespeare Park, or along Lordship Blvd. These places are ideal for food truck operations without food trucks being a problem.

Food Trucks are not what they once were, years ago they were a very niche part of the restaurant industry. Today they are a thriving and important part of the industry, especially during the pandemic, as they allow for easy contactless service and can serve as an alternative for restaurants who had to close their brick and mortar locations.

Connecticut has 100+ food trucks in operation as of last year, but many towns are behind the times when it comes to accommodating food trucks as businesses, and with the new itinerant vendor law being put in place by the General Assembly this year it will be very easy for food trucks to go where towns have modernized their zoning policies to allow food trucks to operate easily.

Towns like Stratford who don’t adapt will miss out. I don’t want to take my business elsewhere, but if Stratford doesn’t change I will be left with no choice.

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