The Daily Pulse:

Food Truck News! And Lots of It!

So much food truck news this week, we don't know where to start. So we're just going to make a list.

A) First of all, if you want to eat lunch and possibly end up on television AT THE SAME TIME, mark your calendars for next Thursday and Friday (that's Nov. 21 and 22). The Food Network* show Eat St. is going to be in town filming the Savory and Sweet Truck and Mister Canteen, and they want people lined up to eat -- and talk about what they're eating -- both days. Word is the shoot will be on Market St. near Krutch Park, next to Urban Outfitters, although that could possibly change. You can keep up with the details of the shoots here. Let's hope the weather's good!

*Alas, this only airs on the Food Network's Canadian channel. But maybe some local Scripps Networks pals can pull some strings and arrange a local viewing when the episode runs? Fingers crossed. UPDATE: Eat St. airs in the U.S. on the Food Network's sister channel, the Cooking Channel, on Thursdays at 8 p.m. We'll definitely let you know when the episode airs! 

B) Another new food truck will be hitting Knoxville streets soon, and it'll be serving fare perfect for the winter weather we've been having -- red beans and rice, gumbo, po boys, and more. That's right: we're getting a creole food truck. Give the Iron Skillet a follow on Twitter if you want to find out when they're out and about.

C) Speaking of hitting the streets, the city is finally -- finally! -- on its way to getting that long-talked about pilot program going, despite some restauranteurs' complaints. On Tuesday, City Council approved an ordinance on first reading that would allow the city to create the pilot program. And, basically, that's all. Here's the wording of the ordinance:

SECTION 1. Chapter 23, Article 1 of the Knoxville City Code is hereby amended by adding the following as a new section 23-18:

Sec. 23-18. - Authority to establish regulations for mobile food vending establishments.

The mayor or the mayor's designated representative is hereby authorized to make and promulgate rules and regulations for the operation of mobile food vending establishments, including rules and regulations regarding licensing, fees and the use of City rights-of-way.

SECTION 2: This Ordinance shall take effect from and after its passage, the welfare of the City requiring it.

Of course, details of the actual pilot program are not in this ordinance -- thereby eliminating the need for a heated public discussion on types of downtown food establishments and their respective worth.

Council will (presumably) vote again to approve the ordinance in two weeks. But how soon will food trucks be allowed to park on city streets after that? Well, it'll probably still be a few months, city business liaison Patricia Robledo says.

"We're certainly hoping to do it by the first of the year, but we'll see," she explains. Robledo says first the city departments need to make sure they're fully coordinated across the board, and then in December she expects to get feedback from truck owners, restaurant owners, and other groups like the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association.

"The good thing about the pilot program is that it's a pilot. We can amend things, we can change things. It's not written in stone. I would hope people keep that in mind," Robledo says.

D) Meanwhile, the Institute for Justice sent the city and all Council members a letter yesterday encouraging the city to institute regulations that encourage free commerce (or, you know, they might sue like they have in other cities). It's our understanding that the food truck owners had no knowledge of this letter before it was sent, by the way. We're trying to get a cut-and-paste-friendly version of the letter to post on the blog, but meanwhile you can read the PDF below:


However, Robledo says she doesn't foresee the city will have a problem with the group.

"We very much want to look at [the regulations] from the perspective of public safety, and not competition, because that's not what the city does," she says. Robledo stresses she's much more concerned with whether food trucks parking on city streets will affect handicapped access to sidewalks or block traffic than being a certain distance from restaurants.


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