Debate Over Food Trucks To Continue During Pilot Program
Will more competition via food trucks be beneficial or a detriment for downtown brick and mortar restaurants?
That has been debated several times by the Jamestown City Council, and business owners and residents during several work session and voting session meetings during the past two months.
The outcome of whether to allow food trucks downtown will unfold during the next three years after the Jamestown City Council approved the 2020 Mobile Food Vending Pilot Program on July 27. City officials will evaluate the pilot program during the next three years and decided whether to transition it into a permanent program in 2022.
At the center of the debate is Diana Scott, Studio D Catering owner, who wants to operate a food truck downtown in a parking lot across the street from where her brick and mortar catering business is located, 106 E. Second St., Jamestown. Scott said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic there is very little catering business being done because there are no large events being held to prevent the spread of the virus. She said since she opened her catering business seven years ago, she had been thinking about starting a food truck operation. However, because COVID-19 basically eliminated her catering business, the thought has turned into a reality.
“I’m glad it moved forward, at least as a pilot program. I think it’s going to be great for Jamestown. My whole point is I want to bring people downtown. That is what it will do. I’ve spoken to customers from Warren, (Pa.), Lakewood, Bemus Point, summer people and they are excited. I hope it will bring some additional food trucks downtown, which will bring additional foot traffic downtown,” she said. “I know neighboring restaurants aren’t happy. I hope they see that it will be beneficial. I hope they see it will bring new clientele downtown.”
Scott’s food truck will be in proximity of two brick and mortar dinner restaurants — 4 Below Haggy’s Bar and Grill Restaurant, which is located at 104 E. Second St., and Gialy’s, located at 210 Pine St.
Eric Hagglund, 4 Below Haggy’s Bar and Grill Restaurant owner, said he was hoping the council would table the food truck pilot program so restaurant owners and city officials could create a plan that is beneficial to all.
“I offered to create a committee to make a plan so it would be a win for restaurants, food trucks and the city,” he said.
Hagglund said the pilot program approved by the council has “a lot of holes” and more planning needed to be done. For example he said the plan states that a food truck cannot be within 125 feet of another brick and mortar restaurant.
He said the food truck program in East Amherst details that a food truck cannot be within 300 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant.
“My recommendation was 200 feet. Other restaurants, none of them had a problem with (200 feet),” Hagglund said. “At that distance, it would have made more sense.”
Prior to the council’s approval of the food truck pilot program, Jennifer Williams, city clerk, read an email from Hagglund, who stated that along with himself, the owners of Gialy’s Sandees, Cherry Lounge, The Pub, Lisciandro’s, The Chop House on Main, Taco Hut, Hotspot Cafe, Jeremy’s Belview, Sauce, Shawbucks and Game Time Sports Bar & Grill all wanted the food truck pilot program resolution tabled so there could be more discussion and planning on the issue.
During the same meeting, the council also heard correspondence written by another dining business owner who supports the food truck program. Peggy Kaltenmeier, Forte The Restaurant owner, said her businesses is more profitable when there are several downtown businesses operating, which provides a broad selection of food options for people who head downtown for the variety.
“I have always been in support of other restaurants opening up,” Kaltenmeier’s correspondence stated. “Because having to compete with areas like Lakewood, whose restaurants have no parking deterrent, and Bemus Point, who has the asset of the lake, Jamestown needs to focus on the arts corridor and creating a destination of culinary attractors to bring people downtown.”