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Food trucks not happy with current results

BY NICK MOFFITT | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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After a little over a month of availability, a few food trucks taking part in the Iowa City Mobile Vending Pilot program are excited to have students back in town.

“We need to get the college students around,” said Elizabeth Wohlford, the Box Lunch LLC’s owner. ”It’s a fun option to have around with the different options.”

The Box Lunch serves ’60s diner-style food and has taken full advantage of the mobile vending program by being at the allowed locations numerous times per week.

In a memorandum to the Iowa City City Council, Geoff Fruin, the assistant to the city manager, stated that informal feedback from some of the vendors was that business had been slower than expected.

Wohlford said that maybe some of the reason for slower business is the visibility of the trucks from Gilbert Street and the lesser foot traffic than some other possible locations.

“We want to see awareness that we are there,” Wohlford said. “To work with the city council and see changes to some of the ordinances.”

Fruin said that the city took into account other cities’ regulations regarding locations and now they are trying to gauge community demand for the program. He said the student population coming back should give a better look at the demand.

Now that school is back in session, student foot traffic has the possibility to be a big part of business at the Chauncey Swan Park location, said Kyle Sieck, the owner of Local Burrito.

Wohlford said changes that would allow the food trucks to have more fluid options for locations might help to bring more foot traffic and perhaps allowing the vendors to use meter parking to serve people could allow more business.

Sieck said with students coming back, he expects higher traffic but has no idea what to expect.

“Our main goal right now is to be out there in the public,” he said.

When the current trial period is over, he wants to work with City Council to create what he called a “food-truck code.”

University of Iowa freshman Wade Mao hadn’t previously heard of the food trucks but said the current location would probably keep him away. More variety in food styles and a more campus central location would be better for him.

Customer loyalty has been big for the Box Lunch, but getting new customers out to Chauncey Park, City Park, and the East Side Recycling Center has been tougher.

The program is slated to end on Oct. 31 and then be discussed by the City Council before the councilors decide whether to continue to the program.

Either way, at the end of the program, local food truck owners just want to bring recognition to their businesses.

“I want to increase mobile vendor access, period,” Sieck said. ”There are parts of town that would benefit from more local food.”


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