Food truck owner expresses concern over recent boundary policy

Puerto Vallarta had a food truck at the event Homecoming Village on Oct. 6 where students could get a variety of Mexican dishes to go. DN PHOTO SAMANTHA BRAMMER
Puerto Vallarta had a food truck at the event Homecoming Village on Oct. 6 where students could get a variety of Mexican dishes to go. DN PHOTO SAMANTHA BRAMMER

Puerta al Paraiso Food Truck

Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Midnight to 3:30 a.m. on Martin or Dill streets. 

For questions about food vendor waivers, contact Muncie Downtown Developement - 765-282-7897

A recently passed ordinance to prohibit food trucks is causing some confusion for what is allowed and where trucks can sell.

Ricardo Licona, a senior telecommunications major and owner of Puerta al Paraiso's food truck, said he wished the terms of the ordinance were outlined better. He said it isn’t clear where exactly he is allowed to park at which times. He doesn't think the ordinance is going to affect his truck much and said there should be situational exceptions.

“If a business was to say they want us to go to [them] for lunch and there’s a restaurant within a 150 feet, we’re going to have to turn them down because of the ordinance," he said.

Licona is also in the process of opening his own restaurant in the Village Promenade by mid-March. His plan to become a restaurant owner made him sympathize with proponents of the ordinance.

“Everything in business is about the location, so obviously for food trucks they got to be a little bit more respectful about the boundaries that they can cross,” Licona said. “Some people pay a premium price for their location. Like in the Village or downtown, they’re paying higher rents to stay there.”

With his business in the planning stages, he said he is neither for nor against the ordinance.

“I think what the city did was definitely a step into raising questions and getting some type of solution, because everything also needs some kind of regulation,” Licona said.

Cheryl Crowder, events director for Muncie Downtown Development, said the ordinance was introduced for two reasons: to protect businesses from food vendors that aren’t considerate of brick-and-mortar restaurants, and to preserve the public right-of-way and how businesses use public spaces in the county.

“While most food truck operators are considerate of brick-and-mortar business[es] and in fact have a relationship with many ... there have been complaints. For those [food vendors] who have created positive relationships, there shouldn’t be any issue,” Crowder said. “The second issue the ordinance addresses is the use of the public right-of-way. The sidewalks and streets in front of businesses belong to the city … there are rules that dictate how you can use public property.”

Crowder said the ordinance allows for food vendors to obtain a waiver to operate in front of business or next to a storefront if they are invited, but all food businesses in a 150-foot radius would need to agree to their presence.

Brian Cooper, kitchen manager for Mr. and Mrs. B Champs Bar, Grill and Carry Out, said while he has not had any bad experiences with food vendors in the past, he agrees with the ordinance and that the distance limit should be even greater.

“I look at it this way: if [food vendors] are allowed to park wherever they want, like if they’re allowed to come into my parking lot and sit here and sell food, that’s depriving me of being able to sell food,” Cooper said. “I think it should be even farther away. I think it should be at least 1,000 feet… [because a food truck] hampers the stationary business from being able to sell their product to the people.”

Amber Whitehead, a sophomore elementary education major, said the ordinance will interfere with the food vendors’ abilities to do their jobs.

“I feel like that’s kind of ridiculous. I mean, I don’t think it’s any different than people building a restaurant right next to [another] restaurant; you’re more than able to do that,” Whitehead said. “If a person wanted to eat the restaurant's food then they would, so if they want to eat the food truck’s food then they can’t.”


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