To hear them talk, food truck vendors and Lancaster village officials are playing nicely in the sandbox.
Unlike in other communities a few years ago, when the advent of mobile food vendors was in its infancy, Lancaster has reached out to some of the restaurants on wheels to get input on tweaking its village ordinance to make it more accommodating.
“I’ve been looking for my kumbaya moment for the last six years in the food truck business, and for us, this is the first time I am able to say that, and it’s in Lancaster,” said attorney Mitchell Stenger, who represents Lloyd Taco Food Trucks and others, who was on hand for a work session of the Lancaster Village Board on Monday night. “It sounds like you guys want to grow the food truck business.”
And Das Wafel Food Truck co-owner Christian M. Walters of Lancaster couldn’t be more happy. “I’m all for food trucks in town. It helps business,” said Walters, the first food truck operator to approach the village more than a year ago. “People are going to come. You have all these crazy Pokemon Go people. We should be serving them food.”
Village Trustees William Schroeder and Dawn Robinson said the village wants to work with the vendors in proposing changes to the code and hopefully lower permit fees, which are now $250 for a yearly permit in addition to separate fees ranging from $185 and higher for village-sponsored events. Day permits also are being talked about.
“We want the mobile food vendors to be welcome here,” Schroeder said. “We want to be fair to all businesses and we want it to be safe.”
Food truck operators say they hope Erie County will step in and develop an umbrella policy to cover all municipalities as the food truck industry expands in many towns. “I am trying to start efforts for a county law in the next six months to ‘de-burden’ the municipalities,” said Jon Rowan, owner of Cheesy Chick Food Truck, a Larkinville regular who also comes to Lancaster events.
Robinson is looking forward to the village recommending changes that would likely improve the village’s fee structure and lower the annual permit fee, which is now $250, possibly lengthen the time food trucks are allowed on a residential street to two hours from the current 20-minute restriction but only for private/catered events, and perhaps allow recent fire inspections done by neighboring municipalities to transfer to Lancaster events so food trucks don’t have to get fire inspections done so close together.