Brandon Martier hopes a turf war of sorts between food vendors at a local park can be the catalyst to move the city forward on further regulation.
Martier, the owner of El Milagro food truck, said he was surprised when he began to set up at Herndon-Sage Park, only to be told by another food vendor the municipal facility belonged to her and he would have to move. Martier, who had purchased a permit and sold food during the Mayor’s Cup, felt he was equally entitled to the space.
Shadrack Collins, a supervisor for the parks and recreation department, told everyone involved that no food sales were allowed at the parks. Martier was told the city was accepting bids to allow a vendor to operate out of the park’s concession stand. Currently nobody has that contract.
“I put in a bid, but I missed a meeting,” Martier said. “I missed one meeting and now it’s up in the air.”
Once a bid is awarded, food vendors outside of the concession stand will no longer be able to serve food at the park, Assistant City Attorney Flo Kessler told councilors earlier this month. The Mobile City Council discussed the issue recently and agreed that further food truck regulation was needed.
Jay Casey, Martier’s attorney, said he’s hopeful the city can develop new rules for food trucks, maybe special lots for the vendors.
“What the city needs to do is have an area downtown for food trucks,” he said. “I understand brick-and-mortar restaurants don’t want a food truck parked next to them.”
Casey added that since Sage Park currently has no concession stand vendor, the city should remove its previous verbal rule against food trucks at parks. Councilors have previously noted that ice cream trucks sell at public parks almost daily.
The El Milagro food truck sells tacos, pupusas and tamales to the public in front of Joe Bullard Cadillac, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Martier said. He’d like to be able to sell on Saturdays at Sage Park as well.
The city previously promoted an event called “Food Truck Fridays” in Bienville Square, but it was ended after complaints from brick-and-mortar restaurants. City spokeswoman Laura Byrne acknowledged the balancing act the city must do to please both sides.
“The mayor supports food trucks,” Byrne said. “It’s a balance between working with them, brick-and-mortar businesses and others.”
Ultimately, the decision on food trucks at parks would be decided by a new director of parks and recreation, a position the city is interviewing for now, she said.