By Katya Yefimova Herald writer
EDMONDS — By lunchtime on Wednesdays, a line forms outside Julie Malcolm’s orange food truck parked at Fourth Avenue and Dayton Street.
The Here and There Grill, as Malcolm’s mobile restaurant is known, travels to various locations in King and Snohomish 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 might be coming soon.
The Edmonds City Council last week 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 could 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 she would welcome food trucks in parks, beaches and outlying areas of Edmonds but urged the city to protect downtown businesses.
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 them to Edmonds.
Council members at last week’s meeting 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.
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 council members decide a different fee is appropriate, Lien said.