Food vending program starts next week

BY ERIN MARSHALL | JULY 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City food trucks no longer have to wait until the semiweekly Farmers’ Markets to sell their food.

On June 3, the Iowa City City Council voted to enact a new food-truck program. The three-month pilot program is set to begin on July 17.

“It’s an experimental program to see how well things go, both from the food vendors’ point of view and from the city staff’s point of view,” said City Councilor Jim Throgmorton.

The three-month pilot program, which will run through the end of October, allows food trucks to set up on certain days of the week.

Food trucks had to apply to be part of the program. The deadline was the end of June.

The food trucks will be allowed at three Iowa City locations including City Park, Chauncey Swan Park, and the East Side Recycling Center.

However, the City Park location was canceled because of the flood, said Kyle Sieck, the owner of Local Burrito.

Local Burrito sells locally grown organic food.

“We specialize in using seasonal local food,” Sieck said. “We try to take really healthy fresh food and make it affordable.”

Local Burrito will be at Chauncey Swan Park on Thursdays and Fridays.

“Hopefully, we’re able to prove to the public and new businesses that we can draw people to us,” Sieck said. “We’re just trying to be an ally rather than a competitor.”

Local Burrito is also looking for commercial space and partners to put together a create commons space, Sieck said.

Sieck said he hopes the program will help the city set up more comprehensive policies regarding food trucks.

The Box Lunch, another Iowa City food truck, will also participate in the program. The Box Lunch sells breakfast and gourmet burgers along with specialty bacon guacamole grilled cheese sandwiches.

“I think just getting the food truck culture in Iowa City will benefit the food trucks that already exist,” said Liz Wohlford, the owner of the Box Lunch. “Just having a spot where people know you’re going to be every day will certainly help my business.”

Throgmorton said he supported original initiative proposal. However, he recognizes that there may be challenges in the future.

“It may be that things go well in one or two of the sites and not in the remaining site, so we’d have to adjust,” he said.

If the program goes well and vendors wish to expand the program, the City Council would consider doing so, Throgmorton said.

Although food trucks are not uncommon in other larger cities around the country, not all cities in Iowa have implemented similar programs.

Bridget McMenomy, a customer representative from the Cedar Rapids city clerk’s office, said Cedar Rapids does not have a food-truck program in place.

“If they did do something along those lines, it would have to be passed through our City Council,” she said.

Food trucks abide by different rules if they’re on private property, McMenomy said.

Trucks also follow specific rules during festivals and events in Cedar Rapids.

“I know that certain events have the authority to have food vendors without getting a city license,” McMenomy said.

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