Over the past year, Knoxville has gone from having zero food trucks to having quite a few, with more on the way this spring. But there's just one problem -- the food trucks can't legally park on city streets, meaning they're limited to whatever private property with which they can make a deal, and twice-a-week Market Square Farmers' Markets, while in season.
But good news, y'all! The city has listened to its new street-savvy entrepreneurs, and an ordinance change is on the way to allow food trucks to park on the streets downtown, and, perhaps, elsewhere. Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett says the city is talking with food truck owners about what works for them, as well as looking at ordinances drafted by other cities, like Nashville, and hopes to have something before City Council in March or April -- just in time for perfect food truck weather!
The new ordinance isn't yet written, but it likely won't allow food trucks to park whereever they want downtown willy-nilly. "We're working on finding some locations that will work for [food truck operators] that maybe will not compete with existing restaurants," Emmett says. So don't expect to see a row of trucks lined up on Market Street facing Market Square. ("Market Street is too congested anyway," Emmett points out.) But there could be designated locations near the City County Building, on Gay Street, and possibly on Locust and Walnut Streets. (Can we suggest Clinch Ave.? Like, right next to the Holston Building? It's near Krutch Park, a perfect place to eat. And, yeah, it happens to be directly across the street from our office ...)
Although Emmett isn't totally sure what form the ordinance will take,
something he says the city isn't looking at is licensing for the trucks, in which only food trucks who paid for and obtained a license would be able to hit the streets downtown. With new trucks on the way -- more about this next week! -- it seems like the city is trying to figure out a way to make it easier for everyone to get more yummy food downtown.
Oh, and if all this reading has made you hungry, head out to the Bearden Beer Market at 5 p.m. tonight, where the Savory and Sweet Truck will be giving away FREE FOOD in honor of its one-year anniversary. Happy birthday, guys!
UPDATE: Emmett calls to clarify that the city will be indeed issuing licenses for food trucks but it won't be restricting the number of licenses, which has been a problem in other cities like New York. We apologize for the misunderstanding.