Raleigh food truck leaders spar over petition drive

ccampbell@newsobserver.comAugust 13, 2013 

— The organizer of Sunday’s downtown food truck rodeo took to Twitter on Tuesday to blast a petition seeking looser food truck restrictions in Raleigh.

“Prefer you keep the event out of it,” rodeo director Guy Caprioli tweeted to Logan King, who has organized the petition. “[You’re] creating conflict when we [were] actually starting to see support.”

King, who owns Raleigh Screen Print on Cabarrus Street, launched the petition ( raleighfoodtruckpetition.com) last week. It asks the Raleigh City Council to allow food trucks in public on-street parking spaces; current regulations only allow trucks on private lots. King points out that the city exempts big events such as the rodeos from the rules, while largely banning trucks from smaller events like the First Friday art walks.

But Caprioli has other ideas about how to build support for food trucks downtown. “It’s not that we don’t support Logan’s position, we just feel that building relationships is a more productive path to working through challenges,” Caprioli said Tuesday after the Twitter dust-up.

And while Caprioli’s rodeo – which drew 70 food trucks to Fayetteville Street on Sunday – has been credited with increasing support for the mobile eateries, Caprioli said that’s not his main goal. “It’s really about hosting a great community event,” he said.

For his part, King says he’s not bothered by the criticism; he’s garnered more than 100 signatures so far.

“I am all for the food truck rodeos, and if they want to be left out of my debate with city council, I respect that,” he said. “My only conflict is with city council.”

Klausie’s Pizza owner Mike Stenke, who’s been Raleigh’s chief advocate for food trucks, said it’s a divide he’s seen before in the truck community. He said he got pushback when he lobbied the Raleigh City Council to loosen the rules in years past – some thought food trucks would be better off operating in the shadows.

“It’s understandable that (Caprioli) has a concern that maybe this is going to backfire,” Stenke said. “I can definitely understand where he’s coming from.”

But Stenke signed the petition, and he plans to promote the effort to fans of his pizza truck, which will soon open a bricks-and-mortar location. He said he thinks Raleigh is ready to have food trucks parked on the streets, provided they’re regulated and kept off busy streets.

“Ultimately this was the goal I had in mind when I first approached the city council three years ago,” he said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter

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