Downtown district seeks more space for food trucks

AP

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Food truck vendors want a little more space in downtown Columbia, and the Downtown Community Improvement District of Columbia is all for it.

Katie Essing, executive director of The District, proposed three new parking spaces for the food trucks at the Columbia City Council’s Nov. 20 meeting. The purpose was to change the ordinance.

“The food truck vendors would like the opportunity to expand their business,” Essing said.

Her pitch was well-received among council members. Mayor Brian Treece said he was a “big fan” of the idea.

“It adds to the vibrancy of downtown,” he said.

Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala agreed with Treece.

Essing said that the new locations were vetted by both the CID Economic Development Committee and the Mid-Missouri Restaurants Association, in order to take into account the concerns that brick and mortar shops might have.

Several parking spots were designated for food trucks in 2014:

Walnut Street between Ninth and Tenth streetsCherry Street between Sixth and Seventh streetsLocust Street between Ninth and Tenth streets.

Locations of the proposed spots are:

Walnut between Seventh and Eighth, in front of the Boone County CourthouseWalnut between Tenth and Orr streets, in front of Artlandish GalleryEighth Street between Broadway and Walnut, in front of the Daniel Boone City Building.

Essing said nearby restaurants have concerns about competition with food trucks. But she said food trucks offer something different.

“They are unique, they give lower-priced options and they are fast,” she said.

Essing also said the District tries to support all initiatives that contribute to downtown’s overall development.

“Anything that you can do to bring people to brick and mortar food shops is going to help everyone downtown,” she said.

At least one food truck vendor is happy with the idea of more choices downtown.

“Any extra spaces would be good for downtown because everyone in the area that aren’t close to our spots now could have a chance to get lunch and/or dinner from the trucks,” said Tim Mallory, owner of The Big Cheeze. “The more spots, the merrier.”

The food trucks will park in designated parking spots and will use parking meter hoods to pay for the time they use downtown.

The protocol will be the same for the existing spots. Each time they are headed downtown, the vendor will have to go to the city building and request a meter bag. The cost per day is $10 and the system is first come, first served.

Columbia has 23 licensed mobile food vendors, which includes both trucks and carts, according to Columbia Finance Department records.

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