Vendors eager to bring the mobile food truck trend to Lexington are taking over one downtown parking lot this weekend to show off their menus and gather support for their businesses. But a number of regulatory roadblocks need to be cleared before the trucks become a common sight downtown. It’s nearing lunch hour and business is starting to pick up at the Bluegrass Food Blast as passersby and employees at nearby businesses wander toward the trucks. Carol Ludwick, who made the drive from her house, is just finishing up her chicken wings.
"It's about time we jump on the bandwagon because it's great, it's economic, and it's delicious," she says.
Currently Lexington doesn’t allow food trucks on public property, but vendors here are hoping to change that. A council task force formed about a year ago is considering a pilot program that would give truck owners a chance to test the waters, but only between 11 PM and 4 AM. Sean Tibbets, director of the Bluegrass Food Trucks Association and owner of Cluckin’ Burger, is one of several vendors wearing a “Free the Food Trucks” shirt. He says the task force should consider giving businesses like his a wider window.
"My market is the folks who've got 15 or 20 minutes for lunch, got to get back on a conference call, and if they didn't have us, there would be no other option," Tibbets says.
Still, some local brick-and-mortar restaurant owners are more wary of the proposal. They worry that might cut into their business at a time when the economy is still recovering. The Itinerant Merchant Task Force is set to discuss the issue further on Monday.