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November 4, 2016 Staff

Should Food Trucks Need to Observe a Curfew?

According to a report in The Daily City, Orange County, Florida has adopted new zoning ordinances that impact food trucks. The new laws adopted on September, 13th 2016 prohibit vendors from operating past midnight. The new laws also prohibit music and customer seating for food trucks as well.

Food Truck Curfews Nationwide

Unfortunately,  food truck curfews are not exclusive to Orange County, Florida. This action has been taken in other locations across the country as well. Here are a few examples of cities or counties where food trucks are restricted to serve past a certain hour:

Des Moines, Iowa – City officials proposed a 10:30 p.m. curfew for food trucks operating outside downtown Des Moines. The alleged reasoning behind the curfew here was due to taco trucks operating late at night, leaving trash and defecting in alleys. If these claims are accurate the behavior of those specific vendors should be fixed.

Philadelphia, PA – Fishtown is a popular neighborhood known for a prolific night life in Philadelphia. For the last three years or so, food trucks have become a popular destination for the after bar crowd between the hours of 2 a.m. – 3 a.m. However, in 2016 that all changed and police started to shut down vendors serving food after midnight. Not surprisingly, this action hurt the businesses of a lot of vendors that rely on the sales the after bar crowd drives.

Working With and Educating Local Government Officials

Although there’s no silver bullet  to resolving legislation actions like this, education can help a lot. Most food truck and concession owners are good people that put an incredible amount of effort into serving great food and operating a clean operation so it’s frustrating to read reports of the small number of “Roach Coach” operators that give the industry a bad name.

Part of the reason some cities have adopted more progressive food truck laws is because of the great work of local food truck associations or groups. Enrolling in your local food truck association is not only smart from a networking perspective for food vendors, but it’s also proven to be an effective way to encourage friendlier food truck laws. If local government officials only hear the negatives about food trucks from the community, they will be more likely to take less progressive action. If you’re able to band together with other vendors to make more noise and share your perspective it can make all the difference in the world with city ordinances.

At the end of the day, the more you can band together with more like minded and quality operators in your area the better. The more you can educate and work with your local officials the less restrictive laws will be. This process requires at lot of work and patience, but we think it’s worth it.

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