Edmonds debates rules for food trucks
Edmonds may allow more, to concern of brick-and-mortar restaurateurs
Dan Bates / The Herald
The Here and There Grill serves the lunch crowd at the corner of Fourth Avenue S. and Dayton Street in downtown Edmonds this week. For now, it's the only food truck in the city. That might change, however, as the city council considers rules to allow and regulate mobile restaurants.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Here and There Grill owner Julie Malcolm (left) Rebecca Wellington, Sadie Malcolm and Spencer Gray serve the lunch crowd this week at the corner of Fourth Avenue S. and Dayton Street in downtown Edmonds. It's the only food truck that sets up in the city, although that soon could change.
Rebecca Wellington helps customers.
The Here and There Grill, as Malcolm's mobile restaurant is known, travels to various locations in Snohomish and King counties on different days of the week offering soups, salads and other chow.
Food trucks have become a national trend. While the Here and There Grill is the only one in Edmonds now, more may be coming soon.
Edmonds City Council recently talked about changing rules in the city code to explicitly allow and regulate food trucks.
Changes need to be made because the current code isn't well set up to deal with the mobile restaurants, said Kernen Lien, the city's associate planner.
Some downtown businesses are concerned about where food trucks would set up.
Lien recently heard from Randy and Brooke Baker, who've been running the Chanterelle restaurant since 1987.
"Each of us restaurateurs is faced with rising food costs, rising payrolls and heavy competition for diners," the Bakers wrote in an email. "To add nomadic entrepreneurs who have no high rents or substantial staff, or large utility bills, or commitments to this community as the rest of us do is simply unfair competition."
Malcolm, of the Here and There Grill, said competition is a good thing.
"Different restaurants come to town all the time, and I'm just one of those restaurants," she said.
Brooke Baker said brick-and-mortar businesses are working hard to offer promotions and discounts to lure the cost conscious. However, her restaurant must pay for rent, utilities and wages for two dozen employees.
She said she would welcome food trucks in parks, beaches and outlying areas of Edmonds but urged the city to protect downtown businesses.
To address that, council members are considering a requirement for food trucks to be some distance away from restaurants.
Councilwoman Adrienne Fraley-Monillas acknowledged the businesses' concern but said the city needs to keep in mind the mobile kitchens' right to compete.
"We've got to be careful; we are talking about determining where money should be made and who should make it," she said.
Lien, the associate planner, brought up food trucks for the first time last year after receiving requests from people who want to bring mobile restaurants to Edmonds.
Councilmembers have requested more information and asked to schedule a public hearing for later this summer.
Lien and other staff still need to answer some questions about the planned changes. The key question is: Where can food trucks operate?
The proposed rules would permit food trucks in commercial zones. Other possibilities include allowing them some distance away from homes in residential areas, and at least a quarter mile away from festivals.
The food trucks wouldn't be allowed to operate if parked in public parking spaces alongside city streets.
The vendors would need to pass the same health inspections as brick-and-mortar restaurants. Those who want to set up in parks would need to have a concessions agreement with the city. In addition, the city is considering imposing an annual fee of $200 in lieu of a business license. This amount is spelled out in city code but could be changed if councilmembers decide a different fee is appropriate, Lien said.
Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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