No to Food Trucks In Maplewood, Says Planning and Zoning

The commission voted 6-0 against “itinerant” restaurants.

By unanimous vote, the Maplewood Planning and Zoning Commission decided to do nothing and close its discussion with regard to f, essentially continuing the city’s ban on mobile food operations–that is, unless Mayor James White and City Council says otherwise.

Seventeen residents attended the meeting at Monday night. Seven spoke–all of them against the mobile operations–including Bill Berthold of the chamber of commerce, who delivered a petition with signatures of 31 business owners against food trucks.

The commission’s vote was 6-0 with member Linda Siemers absent.

Jimmy John’s Restaurant vs. one food truck

Driving the commission’s decision to disallow meals-on-wheels businesses from operating in Maplewood was a singular incident involving a food truck at Sunnen Business Park and its impact on the local Restaurant.

Boo Conner, owner of the local franchise, explained. The phones stopped ringing for Sunnen.

“We probably deliver there 20 times a day. Then we found out there was a food truck,” she said. “Food trucks affect my business probably worse than anyone else because it hurts my delivery business.” Conner said she lost several hundred dollars that day.

Rollie Conner, Boo’s husband and business partner, questioned the need for food trucks. How many people will the food trucks attract from outside the neighborhood, he asked.

“Food trucks are here for the prime-time business, the 11:30 to 1:30 business. They’re here for the gravy,” he said.

“We took a heck of a chance coming here five years ago. Food trucks have zero skin in the game," he said. "We have $300,000 invested.”

A notice has been sent to the Maplewood Police Department informing them that the food truck is in violation of current local law and is not allowed to operate at Sunnen or anywhere else in the city.

One inquiry led to chatter about food trucks

Conversation about the mobile restaurants began circulating a few months ago when a food truck operator contacted Marty Corcoran about the possibility of doing business in Maplewood. Corcoran brought the request to the planning and zoning commission, which instructed him to compile more information and develop a proposal on how to proceed, where to locate food trucks and how to regulate them.

Corcoran did that and delivered his memorandum–"basically a draft," he said–to the commission, the mayor and the city council last Friday.

He also gave the policy makers three options: do nothing and let existing rules stay that prohibit food trucks, allow food trucks to operate without restrictions, or allow food trucks to operate in Maplewood, but with restrictions.  

They decided to drop the matter.

Said local property owner, Rob Birenbaum during the open comment period, “Food trucks are opportunistic. They are itinerant merchants.”

Planning and zoning commission chairman Dan Noonan, added, "The restaurants are the cornerstone of the central business district. I think its something worth protecting."

City council member in a Patch Letter to the Editor on March 9.

What do you think? Should the Jimmy John's one-day experience stop all food trucks from coming to Maplewood?

L Jacoby April 04, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Pity the poor Maplewood brick-and-mortar restaurants (featuring tables and chairs and servers), which have so little confidence that they fear competition from food trucks. Thank goodness that squelching fair market competition ensures they won't have to work on improving themselves. Now, if we can just eliminate those pesky grocery stores where misguided consumers buy ingredients for preparing their own meals, those restaurants can really flourish.
J.N. April 04, 2012 at 10:56 PM
How Stupid! So now Maplewood can tell me what I have for lunch! You've got to be kidding. Maybe people want more choice in what they have, it brings in some change. Some people only get 30 minutes for lunch. having a truck come by helps a lot. Im sure if more people new this was even an issue, you would have had a lot of opposition to the ban. Shame on us for not wanting to have Jimmy Johns everyday. I guess I'll be banned from bringing my lunch from home too. Thanks for making this stupid decision for people who work in Maplewood. The city just wants the tax money.
Lincoln Douglas April 06, 2012 at 12:14 AM
The city is missing a golden opportunity for generating tax revenue and fostering free enterprise. First, these truck owners do not have "zero skin" in the game. How much did their truck cost? How much do they pay for supplies? Are the workers being paid? Gee whiz, what a spurious argument at best. Surely the city managers are smart enough to regulate these trucks just like a restaurant. Make them get permits, pay taxes, submit to health inspections, etc, and regulate their vehicle emissions. It seems that the easiest path lies in avoiding work and keeping the fast food purveyors happy, yet it's a shame to shut down a possible revenue stream that co-exists happily in cities everywhere. All major cities in the world have street food, and it's frequently some of the best in town. That said, it is a tough sell for city officials to rise to the defense of truck owners when not one of them could be bothered to attend the meeting and muster their own defense. Politics follows the numbers and the money. If food truck owners want to be welcomed into the municipalities, they need to act like regular business owners and play ball.
MosesZD April 12, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Funny how everyone extolls the virtues of capitalism and free markets until their second-rate food no longer sells. Jimmy John's is crap food and most the food trucks are much better. So, since they can't compete, they have the government protect them. How pathetic.
Jeff Pupillo May 20, 2012 at 09:47 PM
If notified of the meeting I would have been happy to attend and discuss the issue. I own two food trucks here in St. Louis and we operate out of our brick and mortar so understanding both sides is something we have over most food trucks. Maplewood please contact anyone from the St. Louis Food Truck Association and we would be happy to discuss some of the benefits of having us in your city. YES benefits!!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »