Food trucks are rolling through the suburbs, a few years after the area’s larger cities.
Fuquay-Varina approved an ordinance last week that will allow food trucks in town limits, joining other Triangle towns that are catching up to the food truck trend.
The new law prohibits food trucks from operating within 100 feet of a restaurant without permission. They also can only be in residential areas if catering a private event.
Fuquay-Varina commissioners said an upcoming celebration hosted by Draft Line Brewing on June 27 prompted them to address the issue now. Fuquay-Varina hasn’t had any laws governing food trucks, which implicitly banned them from operating in town limits.
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Draft Line regularly has food trucks parked outside the taproom, which is just on the edge of downtown on Broad Street. Town officials, though, decided not to pursue any action against the brewery because it didn’t generate any complaints.
Art Sheppard, who blogs and tweets about the Triangle food truck scene as The Wandering Sheppard, said he is glad to hear that Fuquay-Varina is now allowing the trucks to come to town.
Cary, Garner, Wake Forest and Pittsboro all have begun their own food truck rodeos, about a half decade behind Raleigh and Durham. Even Cary, the seventh biggest municipality in the state, has allowed food trucks for less than a year.
“I think other areas said, ‘Hey, Durham’s doing really well, Raleigh’s doing really well, what can we do to grab the same attention?’” Sheppard said.
Food truck rodeos and other events hosted by towns not only draw out-of-town visitors, Sheppard said, but they “show off some of the revitalization they’ve done in their downtown.”
Garner, for instance, entered the scene with a splash last October. They followed it up last weekend with another downtown food truck rodeo that also combined local beer and live music.
Cary has started making a name for itself in the food truck world, inviting mobile eateries to downtown events, such as Final Friday, and also hosting the Chatham Street Chowdown food truck rally. One was held in April while others are scheduled for July and October.
Sheppard said the food truck events downtown “did a really good job of bringing people to that core that’s much more quaint and kind of historical.”
And even before some smaller towns put food truck rules in writing, many took a relaxed attitude to violations with some even violating their own rules by hosting the mobile eateries.
Cary often had food trucks at town-sponsored events before voting in August 2014 to allow them. Fuquay-Varina also had brought in otherwise banned food trucks for several town festivals and concerts in the past.
“The only people that would be affected by this, really, are the restaurants,” Mayor John Byrne said in early May when the town began discussing the change to allow food trucks. “Have we heard any input from restaurants?”
The town never specifically asked any restaurant owners, Town Manager Adam Mitchell said. But they held several public hearings and only heard positive responses, he said.
“I think it’s something people are interested in, and it would benefit the town as a whole,” said Katie Dies, who co-owns The Mill and Stickboy Bread Company, two of Fuquay-Varina’s more popular downtown restaurants.
She said she was speaking on behalf of several other restaurants on Main Street, whose owners also supported food trucks. Dies said food trucks wouldn’t cut too much into the profits of brick-and-mortar establishments. They also would introduce the downtown area to people who hadn’t been before but might be inspired to come back to shop and eat again.
“It might also be a catalyst for other businesses,” Mitchell said.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Want to go?
What: Draft Line Brewing’s one year anniversary
Where: 341 Broad St., Fuquay-Varina
When: Saturday June 27, Noon to midnight